Square Enix looking to move Hitman with IO Interactive

Publisher negotiating with potential buyers who could keep franchise going

Square Enix wants the Hitman series to continue, even if it won't be the one footing the bill. In a financial results briefing released late last week, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda provided more detail on its plan to divest itself of Hitman developer IO Interactive.

"Our decision to withdraw from the IO Interactive A/S business was the result of a review of our portfolio that we conducted as part of our effort to concentrate our resources in order to strengthen our development capabilities," Matsuda said. "Because the firm is engaged in the development of Hitman and other renowned titles, we are negotiating with prospective external investors capable of ensuring that these titles carry on."

As for what "other renowned titles" could be included in the deal, IO Interactive's history includes only a few titles outside the Hitman franchise. It developed Mini Ninjas and two Kane & Lynch games for Eidos/Square Enix, as well as 2003's Freedom Fighters, which was published by Electronic Arts.

"Given the nature of the competitive landscape in the Western markets as well as other considerations, we decided we needed to concentrate our development resources," Matsuda added in an investor Q&A session. "The decision to withdraw from that business was the result of a review of our group's allocation of both financial and human resources."

Square Enix first announced its intention to drop IO Interactive several weeks ago. That was followed last week by news of layoffs at the Copenhagen-based studio.

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