Last year's Hitman was Square Enix's first foray into producing a AAA episodic game, and it was positively received, both as a game and as a way to make a big budget third person stealth-action game work in a new episodic format.
But it appears that the game has underperformed - at least to Square Enix's lofty expectations. Just as the company revealed
their greatest ever operating profit for the last financial year, they also announced
today that Hitman's developer, IO Interactive, is up for grabs. The future of the Hitman IP, which Square Enix maintains ownership of, remains uncertain.
It's not the best start to Square's new focus on producing episodic content for larger games. Going episodic would bring in a return on financially risky projects sooner rather than later. Instead of spending five years and tens of millions crafting the next Final Fantasy while the dynamics of the market change around them, going episodic also enables them react to change faster.
It'd be difficult to accuse Square Enix and developer IO Interactive of doing episodic wrong with Hitman, given the quality of the game, the frequency of episodes and the responsiveness of the team to react to demands of the game's players. But it seems something didn't stack up financially with Hitman, and it's a shame that a game of its ilk couldn't exist in today's market, and an even greater shame that Square Enix won't give IO Interactive another shot.
Square Enix notes that it plans to double down on its most well-known IP. No pressure on Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square's next big budget episodic game, then...