|IO Interactive ApS (1998–2000)|
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||16 September 1998|
|Hakan B. Abrak (CEO)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Square Enix Europe (2004–2017)|
IO Interactive A/S (often shortened as IOI) is a Danish video game developer based in Copenhagen, best known for creating and developing the Hitman franchise. IO Interactive employs 170 people as of October 2016, and operates a Malmö-based studio, IOI Malmö, since January 2019.
A video game developer is a software developer that specializes in video game development – the process and related disciplines of creating video games. A game developer can range from one person who undertakes all tasks to a large business with employee responsibilities split between individual disciplines, such as programming, design, art, testing, etc. Most game development companies have video game publisher financial and usually marketing support. Self-funded developers are known as independent or indie developers and usually make indie games.
Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and it is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.
Hitman is a stealth video game series developed by the Danish company IO Interactive, previously published by Eidos Interactive and Square Enix. IO Interactive remained a subsidiary of Square Enix until 2017, when Square Enix started seeking sellers for the studio, IO Interactive completed a management buyout, regaining their independent status and retaining the rights for Hitman, in June 2017. The series is available on Microsoft Windows as well as several video game consoles, including the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The franchise also includes two novels and a graphic novel: Hitman: Enemy Within written by William C. Dietz, followed by Hitman: Damnation written by Raymond Benson, as well as a comic prequel Agent 47: Birth Of A Hitman.
The company was founded in September 1998 as a joint venture between the seven-man development team of Reto-Moto and film studio Nordisk Film. IO Interactive was acquired by publisher Eidos Interactive for GB£23 million in March 2004, which saw itself acquired by Square Enix and renamed as Square Enix Europe in 2009. In May 2017, Square Enix ceased funding for IO Interactive and started seeking a buyer for the studio. IO Interactive performed a management buyout in June 2017, becoming independent and regaining the rights to their Hitman and Freedom Fighters franchises. IO Interactive's most recent game is Hitman 2 , which was released in November 2018.
A joint venture is a business entity created by two or more parties, generally characterized by shared ownership, shared returns and risks, and shared governance. Companies typically pursue joint ventures for one of four reasons: to access a new market, particularly emerging markets; to gain scale efficiencies by combining assets and operations; to share risk for major investments or projects; or to access skills and capabilities.
Reto-Moto ApS is a Danish video game developer based in Copenhagen. Founded in 1997, its staff formed IO Interactive as a joint venture in September 1998. Following a decade of inactivity, some founders reformed Reto-Moto in April 2008, and the company developed Heroes & Generals, which was released in September 2016.
Nordisk Film A/S is a Danish entertainment company established in 1906 in Copenhagen by filmmaker Ole Olsen. It is the fourth oldest film studio in the world behind the Gaumont Film Company, Pathé, and Titanus, but the oldest continuously active.
In 1997, Reto-Moto was founded as a video game developer in Copenhagen.Before the studio finished any games, they struck a partnership with Danish film studio Nordisk Film in 1998 that would lead to the creation of a developer jointly owned by the two companies. The resulting company, IO Interactive, was founded on 16 September 1998, with Reto-Moto's seven employees, Jesper Vorsholt Jørgensen, Rasmus Guldberg-Kjær, Martin Munk Pollas, Karsten Lemann Hvidberg, Jacob Andersen, Janos Flösser and David Guldbrandsen, serving as the founders and initial staff of IO Interactive. Nordisk Film and the seven founder each held a 50% stake in the venture. By March 2004, Nordisk Film owned 40.3% in IO Interactive.
Early on, IO Interactive conceptualised a fantasy massively multiplayer online game (MMO) entitled Rex Dominus, however, Nordisk Film staff asked the development team to cease production on Rex Dominus and "test [themselves]" by developing a "simple shooter" instead.As such, the team opted for a run-and-gun action game, as it took less time to develop compared to an MMO, drawing inspiration from John Woo films, such as Hard Boiled and The Killer . They turned to develop for personal computers (PCs), because they were unable to acquire development kits for consoles, and had also found interest in the steady increase of PCs' 3D graphics capabilities.
A massively multiplayer online game is an online game with large numbers of players, typically from hundreds to thousands, on the same server. MMOs usually feature a huge, persistent open world, although some games differ. These games can be found for most network-capable platforms, including the personal computer, video game console, or smartphones and other mobile devices.
An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Some multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games are also considered action games.
John Woo SBS is a Chinese-born Hong Kong filmmaker, writer, and actor. He is considered a major influence on the action genre, known for his highly chaotic action sequences, stylized imagery, Mexican standoffs, frequent use of slow motion and allusions to neo-noir, ‘’wuxia’’ and Western cinema.
A part of the development on the game, which would later become Hitman: Codename 47 , was the creation of the Glacier, the studio's proprietary game engine that fit their needs; co-founder Andersen stated: "Since killing was the main theme of the game, we wanted to do something special. [...] Standard 'death animations' just looked too static so some of the coders tried to see if they could use real-time inverse kinematics for the falling bodies. The first versions ran terribly slowly until one of the programmers figured out a way to fake the whole calculation." 's gameplay. Following six months of negotiations, a publishing deal was signed between IO Interactive and Eidos Interactive. Eneroth became executive producer on the project.This led to the first use of advanced ragdoll physics in a video game. This physics system caught the eyes of British publisher Eidos Interactive, and especially staff member Jonas Eneroth, who thought that the system could greatly benefit Codename 47
Hitman: Codename 47 is an action-adventure video game, developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows. It is the first installment in the Hitman video game series.
A game engine is a software-development environment designed for people to build video games. Developers use game engines to construct games for consoles, mobile devices, and personal computers. The core functionality typically provided by a game engine includes a rendering engine ("renderer") for 2D or 3D graphics, a physics engine or collision detection, sound, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence, networking, streaming, memory management, threading, localization support, scene graph, and may include video support for cinematics. Implementers often economize on the process of game development by reusing/adapting, in large part, the same game engine to produce different games or to aid in porting games to multiple platforms.
Inverse kinematics is the mathematical process of recovering the movements of an object in the world from some other data, such as a film of those movements, or a film of the world as seen by a camera which is itself making those movements. This is useful in robotics and in film animation.
As executive producer, Eneroth encouraged the development team to stray away from the run-and-gun gameplay, and instead focus on a "methodical experience", including dragging dead bodies around the scene to create tension.He had previously worked on Deus Ex and Thief: The Dark Project , which had heavily exposed him to the stealth game mechanics he wished to see in Codename 47. The game was released on 19 November 2000, with reception mixed due to the difficulty of the game.
Deus Ex is a 2000 action role-playing video game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive. Set in a cyberpunk-themed dystopian world in the year 2052, the story follows JC Denton, an agent of the fictional agency United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition (UNATCO), who is given superhuman abilities by nanotechnology, as he sets out to combat hostile forces in a world ravaged by inequality and a deadly plague. His missions entangle him in a conspiracy that brings him into conflict with the Triads, Majestic 12, and the Illuminati.
Thief: The Dark Project is a 1998 first-person stealth video game developed by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive. Set in a medieval steampunk metropolis called the City, players take on the role of Garrett, a master thief trained by a secret society who, while carrying out a series of robberies, becomes embroiled in a complex plot that ultimately sees him attempting to prevent a great power from unleashing chaos on the world.
A stealth game is a type of video game in which the player primarily uses stealth to avoid or overcome antagonists. Games in the genre typically allow the player to remain undetected by hiding, sneaking, or using disguises. Some games allow the player to choose between a stealthy approach or directly attacking antagonists, but rewarding the player for greater use of stealth. The genre has employed espionage, counter-terrorism, and rogue themes, with protagonists who are special forces operatives, spies, thieves, ninjas, or assassins. Some games have also combined stealth elements with other genres, such as first-person shooters and platformers.
In October 2001, Eidos Interactive announced Hitman 2: Silent Assassin , a sequel to Codename 47.Following a slight delay in March 2002, it was released in September 2002, this time for Microsoft Windows, as well as PlayStation 2 and Xbox. To more easily overcome the challenge of bringing the game to consoles, IO Interactive grew "considerably" in headcount. The game was received well by critics; according to Greg Kasavin in his review for GameSpot , "Hitman 2 fixes virtually all of the problems of its predecessor". The success of Silent Assassin came as a surprise to the team, and was swiftly followed up with by porting the game to GameCube the following year.
In 2003, IO Interactive decided to open a Hungarian offshoot, named IO Interactive Hungary.To properly establish the studio, 50 Hungarian staff were hired and brought to the company's Copenhagen headquarters for a six-month training programme. However, after the training had been finished, IO Interactive realised that there were 50 people with talent but no leadership that could guide them when in Hungary. Instead of fulfilling the Hungarian subsidiary, IO Interactive opted to offer all 50 people jobs at their headquarters, to which most of them agreed. In October that year, Electronic Arts released Freedom Fighters , an IO Interactive-developed third-person shooter which was previously announced as Freedom: The Battle for Liberty Island in May 2002. Although a sequel to Freedom Fighters has been anticipated, IO Interactive has been unable to comment on whether such a game was in development.
On 3 March 2004, Eidos Interactive announced that they were acquiring IO Interactive for GB£23 million in cash and stock, plus another GB£5 million linked to the studio's performance in the following four years. The deal closed on 31 March that year. At the time, IO Interactive was Europe's 10th largest video game developer, with 140 staff members employed at their offices. The sale was primarily negotiated by founding member Flösser.
The first game to release under Eidos Interactive's management was Hitman: Contracts , the third game in the Hitman franchise, which was announced and released in April that year.The game was developed in about nine months, from concept stage to console submission, but was under the influence of "crunch time" throughout the entire development. Contracts received positive reception. The next game, Hitman: Blood Money , was announced shortly afterwards, in November 2004. Released in April 2006, the game was praised by critics and retrospectively multiply referred to as the best game in the Hitman series.
IO Interactive announced their next game, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men , in August 2006. 's sandbox solo stealth gameplay. Released in November 2007, the game gained mixed reviews, wherein some reviewers felt like the game had a disconnect with modern gameplay styles.Unlike their Hitman games, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men played as a linear, cooperative gameplay-focused third-person shooter, as opposed to Hitman
On 11 April 2008, four of IO Interactive's co-founders, Vorsholt Jørgensen, Pollas, Andersen and Guldbrandsen, announced that they had, together with former Eidos Interactive executive producer Neil Donnell, reformed Reto-Moto as an active developer.Guldbrandsen and Donnell became chief technology officer and chief executive officer, respectively. Six further IO Interactive employees followed to Reto-Moto in December that year. Co-founder and at the time managing director Flösser left the company on 16 April 2008, and was succeeded by Niels Jørgensen, who had joined the company in 2002.
In January 2009, Eidos Interactive announced IO Interactive-developed Mini Ninjas , a family-friendly game, as opposed to all of the studio's previous titles.Jørgensen explained that, using Mini Ninjas, the studio wanted to reach a broader demographic in the gaming market.
Shortly after the announcement of Mini Ninjas, in April 2009, Eidos Interactive was acquired by Japanese video game conglomerate Square Enix for GB£84.3 million. Eidos Interactive was reorganised over the course of 2009 and became known as Square Enix Europe in November that year. Square Enix Europe continued to oversee their previously owned development studios, including IO Interactive. Speaking for IO Interactive, Karsten Lund stated that the studio experienced "no loss of freedom" following the buyout.
A sequel to Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, titled Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days , was announced in November 2009,and released in August 2010. Critics found that most elements in the game had deliberately been made "ugly" to better fit into the well-told story of the game.
In a November 2009 interview with gaming website Gamasutra , Jørgensen revealed that, due to the high costs associated with living in Scandinavia, much of the company's graphic department had been outsourced to Shanghai.The Chinese office had been set up by two Danish representatives from IO Interactive, with one Dane permanently residing in Shanghai to look over the outsourcing progress. In March 2010, 35 of previously 200 employees were let go from the company. Further 30 people were laid off in November that year, supposedly due to the cancellation of a project that was in development for Microsoft.
In May 2011, IO Interactive and Square Enix announced that they would be returning to the Hitman franchise through a new entry, Hitman: Absolution .A spin-off demo, Hitman: Sniper Challenge , was released in May 2012. Absolution was released in November that year, and, like Blood Money, saw highly positive reception from critics. However, many fans of the series, including the developers at IO Interactive, felt like Absolution was leaning too far into the mainstream, as a result of which they were losing their core player base.
In February 2012, Square Enix opened a new Copenhagen office under the IO Interactive name.The following March, this new office was announced to be Hapti.co, a subsidiary studio focused on mobile games. Hapti.co was sold to Wargaming Mobile, the mobile games division of publisher Wargaming, in September 2017, and was renamed as Wargaming Copenhagen.
In June 2013, 70 staff members, half of IO Interactive's workforce at the time, were made redundant due to "internal adjustments to face the challenges of today's market".Square Enix announced that, from that point on, IO Interactive would exclusively focus on the development of new entries in the Hitman franchise. At the same time, Hannes Seifert, who for the past three years had held the position of production director at IO Interactive, took over the company's management as studio head. At a June 2015 press conference, Sony announced that a new game in the Hitman series, simply titled Hitman , had been slated for a December 2015 release. The game was shortly delayed to March 2016, and later announced to be released in an episodic model. As such, starting in March 2016, the first season for the game was released through six episodes, the last of which was released in October 2016. Around the same time, Ryan Barnard, previously director of the game The Division , left Massive Entertainment to join IO Interactive. At the time, IO Interactive had 170 employees, and was the largest video game developer in Denmark.
Seifert announced in February 2017 that he had left IO Interactive to return to his home country of Austria to pursue an unannounced project.Hakan B. Abrak, also formerly production director for the studio, took over his duties, becoming chief executive officer.
In May 2017, Square Enix announced that they had withdrawn funding from IO Interactive and would begin negotiating with potential investors that would want to purchase the studio.Several jobs were cut at IO Interactive shortly following that announcement. On 16 June 2017, IO Interactive announced that it had performed a management buyout, as a result of which they became independent. The buyout also included the intellectual property for Hitman and Freedom Fighters, but lacked that of Kane & Lynch and Mini Ninjas. Yosuke Matsuda, president and chief executive officer of Square Enix at the time, stated that the company's decision to divest itself of IO Interactive, alongside Hitman, was made because they felt like the series needed to go on, but would be in better hands with another partner or with IO Interactive itself. IO Interactive's associate director, Eskil Mohl, said that, when Square Enix decided to withdraw from the studio, they were already working on Hitman 2, and the job cuts were a necessary step to make sure that the studio would remain viable without Square Enix's backing; Mohl felt that this helped harden the studio to make Hitman 2 a stronger game.
IO Interactive confirmed shortly after the split that all profits from 2016's Hitman would from that point go directly to the studio.In August that year, the studio confirmed that another Hitman game was in development. In April 2018, IO Interactive partnered with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to distribute a Definitive Edition of 2016's Hitman, which was released in the following month. In June 2018, IO Interactive announced Hitman 2 . Unlike 2016's Hitman, Hitman 2 does not feature an episodic release format. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Hitman 2 was released in November that year. On 16 January 2019, IO Interactive opened a subsidiary studio, IOI Malmö, in Malmö, Sweden.
|2000||Hitman: Codename 47||No||No||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||No||Eidos Interactive|
|2002||Hitman 2: Silent Assassin||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2003||Freedom Fighters||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||Electronic Arts|
|2004||Hitman: Contracts||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||Eidos Interactive|
|2006||Hitman: Blood Money||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|2007||Kane & Lynch: Dead Men||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No|
|2009||Mini Ninjas||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Eidos Interactive, Feral Interactive|
|2010||Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||No||Square Enix|
|2012||Hitman: Absolution||No||No||Yes||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||Square Enix, Feral Interactive|
|2018||Hitman 2||No||No||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||No||No||No||Yes||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company known for its Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts role-playing video game franchises, among numerous others. Several of them have sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with the Final Fantasy franchise alone selling 144 million, the Dragon Quest franchise selling 78 million and the Kingdom Hearts franchise selling 30 million. The Square Enix headquarters are in the Shinjuku Eastside Square Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company employs over 4300 employees worldwide.
Disney Interactive Studios, Inc. was an American video game developer and publisher owned by The Walt Disney Company through Disney Interactive. Prior to its closure in 2016, it developed and distributed multi-platform video games and interactive entertainment worldwide.
Freedom Fighters is a 2003 third-person shooter video game for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by IO Interactive and published by Electronic Arts.
Crystal Dynamics, Inc. is an American video game developer that was founded in 1992 by Judy Lang, Madeline Canepa and Dave Morse. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was acquired by Eidos Interactive in 1998. After Square Enix's acquisition of Eidos in 2009, it became a subsidiary of Square Enix. Crystal Dynamics was the first licensed developer for 3DO. The company's mascot was the video game character Gex the Gecko until 2000.
Square Enix Limited, doing business as Square Enix Europe, is a British video game publisher, acting as the European subsidiary of Square Enix. The company was founded as Domark in 1984, named after the founders Mark Strachan and Dominic Wheatley. In 1995, the company was acquired by Eidos and was merged with two other studios and renamed Eidos Interactive the following year. Eidos was in turn acquired by SCi in 2005, and Eidos Interactive was sold to Square Enix in 2009. On 9 November 2009, Square Enix completed the merger of its existing European branch with Eidos Interactive, renaming the resulting company Square Enix Europe.
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is a 2007 third-person shooter video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive in North America and PAL regions, and Spike in Japan, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The mobile phone version was developed by Kiloo and published by Eidos Mobile. The game was received with mixed to positive reviews, and spawned a sequel, Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days. As of January 11, 2008, the game has sold over 1 million copies.
Hitman: Absolution is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth installment in the Hitman series. Before release, the developers stated that Absolution would be easier to play and more accessible, while still retaining hardcore aspects of the franchise. The game was released on 20 November 2012 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. On 15 May 2014 Hitman: Absolution — Elite Edition was released for OS X by Feral Interactive; it contained all previously released downloadable content, including Hitman: Sniper Challenge, a "making of" documentary, and a 72-page artbook.
Mini Ninjas is a 2009 action-adventure game developed by IO Interactive and published by Eidos Interactive for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. A Mac OS X version of the game was released on July 8, 2010, by Feral Interactive. In December 2011, it was announced that the game will be also made available as a browser game for Google Chrome.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is an action-adventure game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Android and, iOS through digital distribution. It is part of the Tomb Raider series, but unlike previous games, the game does not carry the Tomb Raider brand and has a heavy emphasis on cooperative gameplay. In multiplayer, players take the role as either Lara Croft or a 2,000-year-old Mayan warrior named Totec. They must work together in order to stop the evil spirit Xolotl and retrieve the Mirror of Smoke. A single-player campaign mode is available that does not include the non-playable character AI following or helping Lara.
Jonas Eneroth is a video game producer, game designer and entrepreneur.
Hitman Go is a turn-based puzzle video game developed by Square Enix Montreal and published by Square Enix. Announced in February 2014, the game was released for iOS in April 2014 and for Android in June 2014. Windows and Windows Phone versions were released the following year in April 2015. In February 2016, a "Definitive Edition" version was released on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and on Linux and Windows via Steam. It is the first game developed by Square Enix Montreal, a studio founded in 2011. Development entered full production in 2013 and was completed by eleven people using the Unity game engine.
Hitman is a stealth video game developed by IO Interactive. The game was published by Square Enix for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One in an episodic format, starting in March 2016. Ports for Linux and macOS, developed and published by Feral Interactive, were released in February 2017 and June 2017 respectively. It is the sixth entry in the Hitman series. The game's prologue acts as a prequel to Hitman: Codename 47, while the main game takes place six years after the events of Hitman: Absolution.
Square Enix Montreal is a Montreal-based studio under video game developer Square Enix best known for creating the Go series of turn-based puzzle games for smartphones and tablets based on former Eidos Interactive intellectual properties. Founded in November 2011 as a traditional studio with plans to create a new Hitman series game for consoles and employ several hundred people, its mandate changed in 2013 when it became its parent company's choice studio to produce mobile games, beginning with the Hitman franchise. The company developed prototypes for two mobile Hitman games, which became the board game-inspired puzzle game Hitman Go (2014) and the shooter Hitman: Sniper (2015). The commercial success of the latter and the critical success of the former led to two additional titles in the Go series: Lara Croft Go (2015), based on the Tomb Raider series, and Deus Ex Go (2016), based on the Deus Ex series.
Visual Works is a Japan-based CGI animation studio dedicated towards creating video game cut scenes and full-length feature films for Square Enix. Visual Works was founded as the CGI department for Square and was responsible for creating the pre-rendered CG openings for the company, starting with Final Fantasy VII in 1997.