Sources suggest that Hitman 5 may have been bumped off before it was even formally announced.
According to rumors, Hitman developer IO Interactive has been forced to lay off a number of staff members, and cancel a project it was working on. The rumor seems to have started on the Twitter account of 3D Realms co-owner George Broussard.
Broussard wrote “Layoffs at Io Interactive (Kane&Lynch/Hitman). As many as 35, and a project cancelled. – Tis’ the season,” likely referring to the recent news of “seasonal layoffs” at EA. Broussard makes no mention of where he heard this information and doesn’t say anything else about it, and doesn’t expand on his statement at all. If the rumors are true, it will be the second time that IO has had to let staff go this year. Back in March, certain “organizational changes” forced the studio to shed an unspecified number of staff members. Around a month later, Square Enix Europe boss Phil Rogers said that the cuts had been part of cost-cutting measures, and while there wasn’t anything on the horizon at that time, he couldn’t rule out further cuts in the future.
Also troubling is Broussard’s suggestion that a project had been cancelled, as the only project that IO was thought to be currently working on was Hitman 5. IO recently downplayed comments from Hitman voice actor David Bateson, who provides the voice for lead character Agent 47, who suggested that a sequel was on the way, but it’s not entirely clear why. It could be because the project has been cancelled, but it’s also possible it never existed, or that IO just wanted to keep a tighter grip on when and how information about it gets out.
Of course, without official confirmation, all we can do is speculate. We’ve contacted IO for comment and will update if/when the studio gets back to us.
UPDATE: IO has just confirmed the layoffs to Kotaku, again claiming that are an unfortunate side effect of recent internal re-organization. It’s thought that slow sales of Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, and other, earlier titles, is to blame. IO has yet to comment on the rumor that a project has been cancelled.