Rumor: Io Interactive will retain Hitman rights, second season is still on the way

Last year's episodic release of Hitman appeared to be a genuine sleeper hit—in critical terms it was certainly a return to Agent 47's glory days—and so it came as a real surprise yesterday when Square Enix announced its intention to sell developer Io Interactive. The publisher said it wanted to focus its efforts going forward on "key franchises and studios," and apparently neither Io nor Hitman qualified. 

The studio's less-than-certain future—Square Enix said that it had begun negotiations with potential new investors, but "there can be no guarantees" that they'll be successful—implied the same unsure fate for Hitman itself. Which would be a shame: Io has so far done an admirable job of supporting the game with regular updates, new Elusive Targets, seasonal events, and more. It also announced plans for a full second season late last year, which would presumably be put in jeopardy by Square Enix's lack of interest. 

But the situation may not be as dire as it seems: According to German site Gamestar.de (Google translated), "Hitman ist gerettet"—which is to say, the rights to the Hitman franchise will remain with Io, rather than Square Enix, if and when the studio is sold or spun off. Furthermore, work on the second season is already "halfway to completion," the site said, and it's "definitely" going to happen. 

This is all entirely unverified at this point, so bear that in mind. Gamestar said the information comes from "reliable sources" and is "absolutely reliable and secure," but a rumor is a rumor until someone official says otherwise. The site added that it expects Io will make some sort of statement next week, while Square Enix said in response to an inquiry only that "We don't have any further comment beyond the statement [of the pending sale] for now."