While the holiday season is gearing up to be a battlefield between juggernauts such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Black Ops 4, IO Interactive’s Hitman 2 has been steadily flying under the radar, sandwiched between the multiplayer titans of Fallout 76 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Though, the title is slowly emerging as a big hit in its own right with the inclusion of Sean Bean as an Elusive Target as well as a slew of location reveals.
Ahead of this anticipated launch, IO Interactive Assistant Director Eskil Mohl sat down with Gamespot to talk about the road leading up until now. Last year, in an attempt to streamline the company and focus on key assets, Square Enix made the shocking announcement of putting IO Interactive up for sale, rendering the future of the beloved Hitman franchise uncertain. Those were dark times for the Denmark-based studio, as Mohl reflected on how “they had to make a number of layoffs as part of the deal.”
“It’s sort of a miracle that we’re here today,” Mohl said in the interview. “We had to let a lot of people go. But that made the team that was left really come together [and say] ‘Let’s do this, we believe in the product.’” This product was none other than Hitman 2, and three weeks away from release, the company has pulled it off against all odds.
Mohl states that there were no hard feelings after Square Enix dropped IO, as the whole exchange was supposedly pleasant. The two studios still maintain an amicable relationship despite the difficult decision. “I have to say, after Square left us, they’ve been extremely nice to us. They had to focus on other stuff, so that was fair.”
IO Interactive would go on to partner with Warner Bros. to launch the sequel to 2016’s Hitman after becoming its own independent company and retaining the rights to the franchise. It’s a rare occurrence in the industry, but in retrospect the dire situation proved to be a happy ending for both parties involved. Commenting on the current relationship with Warner Bros., Mohl says that it’s been “smooth sailing”; the Danish studio is “super happy with them”, and the opposite seems to hold true as well.
Hitman 2 releases next month on November 14, 2018 for the Xbox One, PS4, and Windows PC.