After IO Interactive has become independent in 2017 (as Square Enix has left them behind, and they also gave back the rights to Hitman), Agent 47 could have been in a free-to-play situation.
According to IGN, after IO Interactive has become a company on its own, several companies knocked on their doors with an offer to acquire the Danes. One of the offers included the idea of making Hitman free-to-play, but this idea didn’t align with what the Danish company wanted with its bald (and bold) agent. The team decided to stay independent, which led to them self-publishing Hitman III (which was previously discussed in the news due to the post-launch expansions, now based around the seven deadly sins no less).
The team lost faith in the Hitman franchise, and so, IO Interactive debated whether to become independent or allow themselves to be bought out by another company. In this period, several investors shared their visions about the future of Hitman, and one of them had the free-to-play idea. „I think free-to-play is very interesting, I think there are some cool experiences that are fit for that, but the Hitman that we made in 2016 is not one of them,” Hakan Abrak, the CEO of IO Interactive, said.
But they decided to stay independent, allowing them to (quoting Abrak) „make fundamental decisions for the studio and our games, within our halls.” One of the ideas included going back to a „full” launch for Hitman 2 (no episodic format), which was published by Warner. Since then, the World of Assassination (the world for the reboot trilogy) is now under one roof, as Hitman III allows us to import locations from the previous two games.
Aside from Hitman III’s free and paid DLC, IO Interactive is currently working on Project 007, a James Bond game featuring a young agent with a new story (we wrote about this before). And seeing how they stayed independent, whatever they mess up will be their fault: no finger-pointing in that case.