Io Interactive has spoken with Gamespot about its split from Square Enix last year, which "decided to withdraw from the business" despite the studio's success with Hitman. Associate director Eskil Mohl told the site that "it's sort of a miracle" that Io is still around, but said that the layoffs it was forced to undergo as a result of its unexpected independence has helped the remaining team members pull together.
Square Enix announced that it was divesting itself of Io Interactive in May 2017, a moment Mohl described as, "Oh shit, we're flying over the Atlantic and we don't have enough gas to get there. So what the hell do we do?"
Fortunately, Square did Io the kindness of setting it free rather than putting it down, and let it take the Hitman property with it on the way out. Layoffs followed, but the studio was able to keep the lights on, continue supporting Hitman, and keep up work on Hitman 2, which will be published by Warner.
"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.' We were already working on Hitman 2 and then this thing happened," Mohl said.
"It sort of unified us in a way. Yeah, it's been super hard, but its always a lot of work, but it's fun work. It really made us go, 'Yeah, we can do it!'"
And despite the turbulence caused by the split, it sounds like things between Square Enix and Io Interactive are amicable. "I have to say, after Square left us, they've been extremely nice to us," Mohl said. "They had to focus on other stuff, so that was fair."
Hitman 2 is set to come out on November 13. Job one is Sean Bean: You will probably kill him, and he will probably not stay dead.