After almost a decade together, Square Enix and Hitman developer IO Interactive are going their separate ways.
In a brief statement, Square explained it would be withdrawing "from the business of IO Interactive as a wholly-owned subsidiary" suggesting it wants to sell off the studio.
No clear reasons were given for the presumed sale, beyond Square claiming it wishes to "maximize player satisfaction as well as market potential going forward" by focusing its time and energy on "key franchises and studios."
The latter half of that sentence suggests that, for whatever reason, the Japanese publisher no longer considers IO to be a key asset.
The statement added that Square Enix has "started discussions with potential new investors and is currently in negotiations to secure this investment. Whilst there can be no guarantees that the negotiations will be concluded successfully, they are being explored since this is in the best interests of our shareholders, the studio and the industry as a whole."
Square took control of the Danish studio back in 2009 after acquiring its parent company Eidos Interactive for $117 million.
The developer's first title under that new regime was Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, which received a lukewarm reception. After that, the company returned to the Hitman franchise with Hitman: Absolution and last year's critically acclaimed Hitman episodic series.
Right now, it's unclear what the break-up means for the Hitman franchise, or those working at the studio. Speaking on Twitter, IO said it's business as usual for the time being, but promised to issue an update clarifying its position in the future.
@Hugo__OS Thanks for tweeting us. There's a lot going on right now and we'll have more to say at a later point. For now, back to making games.”— Io-Interactive (@IOInteractive) May 11, 2017