"Oh sh*t, we're flying over the Atlantic and we don't have enough gas to get there. So what the hell do we do?"
Last year, Square Enix made the dramatic announcement that it would narrow its focus down to its key franchises and studios. This meant that developer IO Interactive and the Hitman franchise were put up for sale. Hitman 2 was already in development when this announcement came down, which put the future of the studio and the Hitman franchise in question. IO Interactive was ultimately successful in becoming an independent company, and it was able to retain the Hitman rights. Eventually, IO partnered with Warner Bros. on the soon-to-launch Hitman 2.
In an interview with GameSpot, associate director Eskil Mohl reflected on this challenging time for IO Interactive. IO had to make a number of layoffs as part of the deal. While this was difficult, Mohl said it helped the team that remained become further unified and driven to make Hitman 2 better.
"It's sort of a miracle that we're here today," Mohl said. "We're super happy and excited about that because of course it's been a rough time. It took a long time to find Warner as well."
Mohl said when Square Enix dropped IO and the Hitman franchise, the situation felt dire. He said he remembers thinking, "Oh sh*t, we're flying over the Atlantic and we don't have enough gas to get there. So what the hell do we do?"
As mentioned, one part of coming to a solution was cutting jobs--and this was difficult.
"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," he 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, 'Yeahhh we can do it!.'"
And regarding IO's new partnership with Warner Bros., Mohl said it's been smooth sailing. Similarly, Square Enix was pleasant during the breakup, he said.
"I can only say super positive things," Mohl said. "We're super happy with Warner Bros. And they seem to be happy with us, right? [looks at PR person in the room]. I have to say, after Square left us, they've been extremely nice to us. They had to focus on other stuff, so that was fair."
Hitman 2 launches on November 13 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The actor Sean Bean, who typically portrays characters who die, is the first Elusive Target in the sequel. You can watch a trailer for this in the video embed above.