Hitman developer IO Interactive only had three months' worth of cash in the bank when it went independent in 2017.
That's according to CEO Hakan Abrak (pictured), who told GamesIndustry.biz that the firm was taking a "huge risk" when it was spun out of Square Enix four years ago. Since that point, all profits from 2016's Hitman reboot went to IO, which helped keep the studio afloat to release two sequels.
"The first six months wasn't about grand plans of independence or conquering the world," Abrak said.
"I want to be completely honest about this, we literally had three months' cash flow before we had to close shop when we went independent. We knew that we were taking a huge risk, and that this face, together with the rest of the owners, would be on the news of closing down a 20-year old studio if we didn't turn things around very quickly."
2016's Hitman reboot was also initially intended to be a live service, which IO would add content to over time like an MMO.
"I think not many people know this, but Hitman 2016 was supposed to be one ever-expanding live product, just like an MMO, where you would have this one executable," Abrak explained.
"So Hitman 2 and 3 would just expand within this World of Assassination, that was the vision. So you can buy Hitman 1 and 2 and unlock them from within Hitman 3 from the menu. Hitman 1 starts with Paris and in the menu it's already there, all the way to the last location in Hitman 3."
Shortly after IO Interactive became independent in 2017, it announced that Hitman had attracted over five million players. By November of that year, this had increased to seven million, with IO announcing that there were two new Hitman games in the works as well as a TV series.
The studio teamed up with Warner Bros for 2018's Hitman 2, which IO described as a fresh start as an independent developer. IO has also partnered with Warner Bros for a "new universe".
Hitman 3 made its debut in January 2021. The firm is also working on a James Bond game dubbed Project 007.