For years, the Hitman series has been published by Square Enix and developed by IO Interactive. It was one of the biggest IPs the publisher had control of and despite loving the quality games IO developed, Square Enix decided they couldn't invest in the series anymore.
Earlier this year, both companies went their separate ways and Square gave the rights to the stealth series to IO Interactive. In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda gave some insight on the public breakup.
"In the case of Hitman, I personally love the game," he told GamesIndustry.biz. "I think it's very unique, but I always have to look at things from the perspective of what it costs us to develop it and the performance it delivers. In doing that, in the case of Hitman, we had several expectations where that balance was not sufficiently achieved.
"Whether it's our Western studios or Japanese studios, 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."
Instead of holding on to the rights and saving them for a rainy day, the gaming giant wanted to see the series move forward and succeed, even if it meant having no part in it. Could they have moved on with another developer? Sure but Matsuda believed it wouldn't be the same.
"It's because I believe it wouldn't be Hitman unless it was Hitman made by IO," says Matsuda. "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."
Sure, it may have been hard for the company to kiss one of their babies goodbye but it has resulted in nothing but good. For starters, two Hitman games are already in development and a TV show based off of the games is in the works at Hulu from the creator of John Wick.
It's not often you hear big companies performing selfless acts but this is one we can't help but respect.
Hitman is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.