While most IO Interactive fans were just happy to hear that the studio retained the rights to the Hitman franchise following their split from Square Enix, it’s recently become clear that the developers didn’t get to hold on to all of their former properties.
IO Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak revealed to Gamesindustry.biz that the studio “lost Kane & Lynch and Mini Ninjas in the divorce.” It seems that Square Enix elected to hold those particular names or, more likely, always had the rights to them via some kind of agreement reached during their development.
Mini Ninjas probably doesn’t ring many bells in the minds of IO Interactive fans. It was an action/adventure title that focused on the cartoonish exploits of a group of ninjas. While not a particularly deep title, it was a fun little game that managed to win over a few people along the way.
Kane and Lynch, though, probably does sound familiar to a great number of gamers. This infamous series saw two violent men engage in a series of heists, odd jobs, and missions of revenge. It was cruel, it was dark, and it sported some great ideas regarding co-op gameplay. Mostly, though, Kane and Lynch is remembered as the game that likely got former Gamespot writer – and current Giant Bomb editor – Jeff Gerstmann fired. The rumor at the time was that Gerstmann’s 6.0 score of the original Kane and Lynch did not make the game’s publishers happy.
What’s strange about these two properties is that it’s hard to imagine that Square Enix is eager and willing to produce a sequel to either of these games anytime soon. Perhaps more so with Kane and Lynch, but we’d again suspect that they retained these rights because of some old deal between the two parties.
As for IO Interactive, they’re quite pleased with their new arrangements.
“This has been a genuine watershed moment for us,” said Abrak. “Just like our games, it can be challenging at times, but now we’re in control of what we do next and that’s quite satisfying. Being independent means we don’t have to do things the way we’ve done them in the past…We can be more open with what we say and what we do. In other words: expect less corporate-speak, and more heart.”