IO Interactive

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IO Interactive A/S
Formerly called
  • ASX Nr. 14.811 ApS (1990–1991)
  • Mermaid Invest ApS (1991–1998)
  • IO Interactive ApS (1998–2000)
Industry Video game industry
Founded November 1, 1990; 27 years ago (1990-11-01)
Headquarters Copenhagen, Denmark
Products Hitman series
Kane & Lynch series
Freedom Fighters
Mini Ninjas
Number of employees
200 (2014)
Parent Square Enix Europe (2003–2017)

IO Interactive A/S (IOI) is an independent Danish video game developer based in Copenhagen, Denmark, best known for developing the Hitman series. The company was founded under the name ASX Nr. 14.811 ApS on 1 November 1990, and became Mermaid Invest ApS on 24 May 1992.[1] On 16 September 1998, the Reto-Moto development group turned the company into IO Interactive ApS, and into IO Interactive A/S on 14 April 2000.[1] Originally a private studio, they were purchased in 2004 by their publisher, Eidos Interactive; Eidos was subsequently taken over by Square Enix and became Square Enix Europe, in 2009. IO Interactive remained a subsidiary of Square Enix Europe until 2017, when its parent started seeking buyers for the studio. IO Interactive completed a management buyout, regaining their independent status and retaining the rights for Hitman and Freedom Fighters,[2] in June 2017.


IO Interactive was founded in September 1998 in Copenhagen, Denmark.[3] It began an independent company, and developed its debut title, Hitman: Codename 47, released in 2000. The game was published through Eidos Interactive,[4] and, upon release, received generally positive critical reception, being praised for its wide range of weapons, the smart AI and the realism, while being criticized for its lackluster camera, length and not living up to expectations. The game has a score of 73/100 on review aggregate site Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

Sign outside IO Interactive's former location at Farvergade 2 in Copenhagen.

The company followed this up in 2002 with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, which received positive reviews. IGN said, "It's a phenomenal game in its own right, and one that's sure to have broad appeal, particularly among those gamers who like to put a little more thought into their carnage."[6] The game, on PC, currently holds a Metacritic average of 87/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", and a GameRankings score of 84.88% on PC.[7][8] This game was again published by Eidos Interactive.[9]

The company's next game was 2003's Freedom Fighters, a tactical shooter, published through Electronic Arts.[10] Freedom Fighters received positive reviews. Metacritic assigned 81/100 for PS2,[11] 82/100 for Xbox,[12] 83/100 for GameCube[13] and 80/100 for PC.[14]

Shortly afterwards, it was purchased by Eidos Interactive, ending its six years of independence.[15] Around the same time, it released Hitman: Contracts, which was met with mixed reviews. The PS2 and Xbox versions of the game were generally positive, 80/100 for PS2[16] and 78/100 for Xbox[17] respectively on Metacritic, the PC version has a 74/100, indicating mixed or average reviews.[18]

Hitman: Blood Money followed in 2006 as the fourth game in the Hitman series. It was well-received and was a financial success; afterwards, IO Interactive took a six-year hiatus from the development of Hitman. Its next game was Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, which followed the ventures of criminals Kane and Lynch as they attempted to pull off a heist. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, upon release, was negative received by critics, who criticized it for its length and lack of originality. The next venture by the developer was Mini Ninjas, which departed from IO Interactive's usual violent, adult games. Mini Ninjas received generally mixed reception upon release.

In 2009, the company was made to work under Square Enix following its acquisition of Io-Interactive's parent company, Eidos Interactive.[19] its next game was the second installment of the Kane & Lynch series, entitled Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days. This game received generally mixed reviews, being criticized for its extremely short length and lack of any real innovation.

IO Interactive returned to the Hitman series, with Hitman: Absolution, which was described as having been made more accessible for wider audiences.[20] The game received a polarized reception upon its November 2012 release. In 2013, its parent company Square Enix ran into financial difficulties, and they had large numbers of employees cut to save money.[21] In addition to this, it was confirmed that IO Interactive would be working solely on Hitman and would no longer be developing any more additions to the Kane & Lynch, Mini Ninjas, or Freedom Fighters series.[22]

In May 2017, Square Enix withdrew from IO Interactive, and began negotiating with potential investors to purchase the studio.[23] On June 16, 2017, IO Interactive announced that it had performed a management buyout, as a result of which they became independent of Square Enix.[24] The buyout also included the retaining of the Hitman intellectual property.[25] Square Enix's CEO Yosuke Matsuda said that the decision to divest itself of IO Interactive was in part that they wanted to see the Hitman series continue on successfully, but found that in how they managed IO Interactive, "we had several expectations where that balance was not sufficiently achieved" and felt it would be better if IO Interactive continue on the Hitman series by another publisher.[26]

Games developed[edit]

Year Title Platform(s)
GCN PS2 PS3 PS4 Wii Win Linux Mac Xbox X360 XB1
2000 Hitman: Codename 47 No No No No No Yes No No No No No
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
2004 Hitman: Contracts No Yes No No No Yes No No Yes No No
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
2010 Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days No No Yes No No Yes No No No Yes No
2012 Hitman: Absolution No No Yes No No Yes No Yes No Yes No
2016 Hitman No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes[27] No No Yes


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ "More Hitman, more control: IO Interactive on its newfound independence". Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  3. ^ Io-Interactive: Company Info Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Publisher of Hitman: Codename 47
  5. ^ Metacritic for Hitman: Codename 47
  6. ^ IGN review of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
  7. ^ Metacritic for Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
  8. ^ GameRankings for Hitman 2: Silent Assassin PC
  9. ^ Publisher of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
  10. ^ Publisher of Freedom Fighters
  11. ^ Metacritic for Freedom Fighters PS2
  12. ^ Metacritic for Freedom Fighters Xbox
  13. ^ Metacritic for Freedom Fighters GameCube
  14. ^ Metacritic for Freedom Fighters PC
  15. ^ Eidos Interactive acquisition of Io-Interactive
  16. ^ Metacritic for Hitman: Contracts PS2
  17. ^ Metacritic for Hitman: Contracts Xbox
  18. ^ Metacritic for Hitman: Contracts PC
  19. ^ Square Enix takeover of Eidos Interactive
  20. ^ Hitman: Absolution to be made more accessible
  21. ^ Io-Interactive redundancies
  22. ^ Io-Interactive to focus only on Hitman franchise
  23. ^ Saed, Sherif (May 11, 2017). "Square Enix drops Hitman developer IO Interactive". VG247. Retrieved May 11, 2017. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ Batchelor, James (November 22, 2017). ""It's not Hitman without IO": Why Square Enix set the franchise free". Retrieved November 22, 2017. 
  27. ^

External links[edit]