Earlier this year game publisher Square Enix did something very rare in the gaming industry. Parting ways with developer IO Interactive, Square let IO keep the rights to the “Hitman” video game franchise which was coming off the success of last year’s acclaimed reboot of the property.
In a new interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda explained why they decided to let go the studio but the IP as well, even as it lead to a $43 million loss for the company and questions over if the reboot’s “first season” will get a follow-up:
“At Square Enix we sometimes end up with conflicts or shortages in terms of resources. I felt that if we were not able to continue sufficiently investing in Hitman, it could wind up ruining the game – so we found ourselves in a difficult position. A decision had to be made in terms of our relationship with the Hitman team. I wanted them to continue to develop the game, but I thought in terms of investing further in the game it would be best if they worked with another partner other than ourselves.
Although Hitman  was very well received, when we thought about having to invest in the second and third seasons and we considered the scale of investment required to do that, and we also had to consider any conflicts with resources allocated to other titles, we decided it would be quite challenging. It’s for that reason we decided an MBO [management buyout] or another partner would be the best way to continue it.
That allows them to decide the future of Hitman based on their own free will…. I believe it wouldn’t be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by IO. I love the game, and I believe the fans of Hitman think it’s only Hitman if it’s made by IO. So I thought that was the best way for the game to continue, and that’s why we were supportive of the MBO and of course didn’t mind if they continued to use the IP.”
He also explained what is currently happening with the “Deus Ex” franchise coming off the disappointing reviews for last year’s “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided”:
“What I can say is Eidos Montreal has always developed Deus Ex, and the issue is we do not have limitless resources. We have several big titles that we work with and that’s partly a factor in what our line-up looks like. Of course, it would be ideal if we could work on all of them all of the time, but the fact of the matter is some titles have to wait their turn. The reason there isn’t a Deus Ex right now is just a product of our development line-up because there are other titles we are working on.”
Eidos Montreal’s focus for now is reportedly on the third chapter in the “Tomb Raider” franchise following the reboot and “Rise of the Tomb Raider”.