Hakan Abrak, CEO and co-owner of IO Interactive, told IGN that after the studio’s executives bought it from Square Enix in 2017, they received several “extremely lucrative” takeover offers.
According to him, each potential buyer presented their own vision of the further development of the studio and the Hitman series. For example, one of the investors suggested reducing the number of developers and hiring analysts instead to optimize future content for the game. Another even suggested taking Hitman free-to-play.
I think the free-to-play model is very interesting and there are some cool ideas that work for it. But Hitman, which we created in 2016, is not one of them.Hakan Abrak
Abrak stressed that some of the investor ideas could have been successful, but none of them matched the studio’s own vision. Therefore, the leaders of IO Interactive have maintained faith in their development strategy, even in the face of financial difficulties. He noted that after the buyout from Square Enix, the studio had only three months of cash left in circulation.
We had this vision for Hitman 2016: we knew that we had created a platform for which it was not only sales in the first three or six months that were important. We knew we were going to have a marathon.Hakan Abrak
Ultimately, the belief in the idea didn’t just work, but surpassed the studio’s expectations, Abrak said. In the above mentioned interview, the subject of the potential acquisition comes in quite early, at the 5:40 mark. The bit on Hitman 1 recouping costs comes in quite a bit later, at 37:20.