Square-Enix drops IO Interactive


Well in the case I mentioned, the concept is:

For SE: HITMAN = Business As Usual ; IOI = New Status as Independent
For IOI: HITMAN = Business As usual ; SE = Rights Owner of HITMAN, We are Favored Developer of HITMAN.

The above sounds appealing (if only because it means the day-to-day work of making and releasing HITMAN is unchanged) but there’s a third leg: the “New Investor”.

And until that third leg is propped up, then we’ll probably hear nothing. In the case I mentioned, IOI will not want to be sent into the wild without a new lifeline, and SE wouldn’t want to endanger the game it wants to keep a pulse on.

The ideal third investor in this case would be a person with resources, developer and producer experience, but who would be happy to stick with Square Enix on the flagship. Someone like a Don Mattrick or like a Peter Moore for example (not specifically those people. Just saying new Investor doesn’t have to be another huge company).

That would also explain btw the “Best interest of Shareholders” bit. Everybody wants to have their cake and eat it too. :stuck_out_tongue:


It would never hit steam without also hitting consoles. And considering they also have a deal with Sony.


Square Enix had that deal most likely.

Also, only one Hitman game in the entire series has been a platform exclusive - Codename 47 on PC.


Another sweetener in that arrangement would be that while SE doesn’t have the exclusive right to future IOI work, it can instead have a “first look agreement” so that IOI should show work to SE first if it develops a new game or IP, but unlike HITMAN, these would be IOI’s own property.

If SE wants to distribute these new projects then it only has the right to distribute and market these (see: CDPR agreement with WB). But anything SE doesn’t pick up, IOI is free to sell to anyone else for distribution.

So it ends up a bit like IOI was sent down on a tiny boat out of the Square Enix ship but there’s these lines that still tie them together although they can now stretch to an indefinite length.


Hitman forever, pls.

Take it, IO, take it! Before it goes away!


Still no word?


Your thoughts?


HITMAN JP version


Wait, what? So SE kept the rights? Me not understando…


This is what i hope for, i read that we might hear something from IO-I this week or next week, but right now no news is kinda good news in my opinion.


What do you mean? Obviously there hasn’t been a sale yet, so SE still owns both IOI and the IP, yes.


We can’t actually be 100% sure about that, there could be a lot of key elements that have to come together first, before whatever publisher ends up with IO makes an announcement. A publisher transition isn’t simple and there is probably a lot of things that needs to be finalized before the announcement.

That said i don’t believe that IO have found a new home as of yet, but i do believe that a possible buyers at this moment have been found and that the negotiations are underway. But we won’t hear anything before it’s 100% finalised. I don’t expect to hear anything about a new Publisher this week. At least nothing official.

Edit thanks to @HHCHunter for being awake


Wut, that’s confusing.

Do you mean


All we know for sure from that video is that SE is publishing and/or distributing Hitman in Japan.

Based on hitman.jp, and the imprint there, it’s a fair guess Hitman is being retooled to take certain language representation approaches. My sincerest hope is they drop Scaleform for WebKit or similar, to lower their overall retooling cost over time – but my guess is that won’t happen in the short term, which means the Mac port (which will land at some point*) will still be expensive and time consuming.

* Yes, the Mac port does still appear to be coming.


Doesn’t that imply that Square kept the rights for Hitman? I mean, I know it’s nothing conclusive yet, but I have a bad feeling about this trailer.


Opening disclaimer that I’m fairly tired and woozy from some meds I’m on at the moment, so hopefully I didn’t forget anything important (like a verb).

No. It implies that SE has the distribution and publishing rights for the game in Japan, as of its release date.

I’ll break this down fairly simply, while trying to avoid oversimplifying.

Developer (role of)

One-liner: Games are typically designed and developed by a studio (developer).

The people who actually make the content. Like an author of a book, the illustrator of it, and even the editor. They’re part of the development team. It’s one of those hazy/fun distinctions. This doesn’t really need much further explaining than that as they haven’t changed massively.

What needs clarifying is that developers need funding from somewhere. Often it’s from a publisher who forwards some of the development cost to them, or even approaches them with a project.


One-liner: Until Steam became big games required a distribution network (distributor)

Once Steam became big, Steam became the distributor but they’re also the publishing platform. GOG, Steam, etc., are store meets distribution meets publishing in many cases, though technically publishing is still distinct. It’s kind of hazy and strange, just like EBooks are. Another weird example is YouTube: YouTube is a platform, Channels are Publishers, Content Producers are “Developers”. The distribution is handled by YouTube/Google, but it’s kind of different to your on-the-shelf media (DVD/BluRay). Now that digital distribution is big publishers are frequently also the developer and distribution is handled by Steam and the publisher together, which means Steam only does some of the job (which can be automated entirely on their end once some paperwork is done). This is why the distributor is a write-off in this simplification.

Distribution agents typically aren’t relevant to concerns about finances. THQ Nordic are known to do raw distribution (without being a publisher). Hitman was originally listed as being published by EIDOS and distributed by Square Enix. EIDOS being owned by SE is irrelevant here, though it is interesting to see EIDOS absent from the JP materials I’ve seen. Nothing particularly interesting, it just means SE is likely publishing and distributing in for the JP release.

Publisher (role of)

One-liner: Distribution was typically handled by a publisher, who reached out to the distribution chains.

Steam is a common distribution platform, but since Valve/Steam uses heavy automation the largest part of distribution is typically done directly by the studio (setting the branch, pushing data, testing it’s there, then switching the stream and/or enabling beta streams/access). In the past it was boxes on ships/trucks moving product around the world. Digital distribution makes this easier for developers to do directly, though some companies do still require a green light from their publisher before getting the green light to distribute or publish updates. Of course, for smaller groups (like the teams who make Factorio, or Minecraft back in the day), they make their own decisions about publishing and distributing. As you see the lines have blurred heavily.

Publishers also used to forward/generate/handle the money for the project. Not all of it, just a lot of it. If SE steps back as the publisher but not distributor they can still make money by handling some of the duties that formerly fell to the publisher.

State of play

Now that we have widescale digital distribution (Steam, Origin, PSN, the parallel Xbox networks), and indie developers can directly publish, the rules have shifted a bit in our favour as consumers. Much like book self-publishing, indie developers can put their titles up there with other, bigger, titles. For the purposes of Hitman this is an unlikely case, but as the product exists on the shelves and Season 2 could be sold as DLC it’s promising even if SE are only pushing the first wave of products out (i.e. Season 1 in multiple regions). Middleware is a total minefield that distorts this world view for a lot of people, but for those of us who work in, work along side, develop for, consume, or whatever else, and who have had to understand it for various reasons, it’s easier to just ignore it for explaining things. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it’s just not relevant unless you understand most of the rest of the picture. Think of middleware developers as the people who make the fonts for your book, indirect, but important, people.

So what we know, given that the landscape has shifted in a big way, is that IOI could distribute elsewhere through other people. However, Hitman, as a franchise, may make serious bank in Japan. That’d be cool as SE would likely pay IOI a bit for it (as they are just distributing and publishing, and typically as part of the deal IOI would get some money back). The internals of that deal are unknown to us, it might be old, it might be new, but based on the announcement dates my guess would be new (post “split”). How it resolves is irrelevant to the above point.

IOI is still the developer, from what we can see, as there would be another imprint on the site (hitman.jp). There is no imprint for another developer and SE don’t have an in-house capable of working on the engine that wouldn’t put their name there.

The remaining copyrights, logos, and so on, only indicate Square Enix is publishing and/or distributing. Based on a prior arrangement for other regions it’s probably a combination. Either way, nothing changes for SE.

What’s big here is IOI likely has to retool part of the game for localisation. It’s more than just censoring or tweaking content (which I’m sure they’re going to have to do based on an understanding of the market). IOI are still going to make some money for working on this. If nothing else it keeps the lights on.


The International Version with the “hype quotes” gives me more chills.

This was the second trailer I saw since first seeing the new Hitman after being down on Absolution.
Man, I remember that like it was just yesterday.

When the first quote flashed: "This is the Blood Money follow up you’ve been waiting for."
I was like: “HITMAN IS BACK, BABY!” :slight_smile:


I swear if they do get this all sorted and we get Season 2 they should have a launch trailer where they have the Constant describing 47 as “Someone who cannot be stopped. Like a force of nature. Just when you think he’s gone. He just comes back.”

Only true fans will understand the meaning of that. :stuck_out_tongue:


They can also write this under IOI logo. :slight_smile:


So with this recent news I decided it was better to get that stupid Crystal Ball or else it will be added along with the Signature Suit with Gloves and Winter Suit that I’ll never get…

And then I realized I must be getting better at this game:

They sure picked a good time to put its future in danger. Sheesh. :stuck_out_tongue: