Beloved stealth-action series Hitman has been saved from its uncertain fate, with publisher Square Enix agreeing to let developer IO Interactive - responsible for the creation of the series - retain the full rights to the Hitman IP.

The future of the series was cast into doubt last month when Square Enix announced plans to sell subsidiary IO Interactive following the completion of the first season of 2016's new episodic game in the series.

While critically successful, Square's decision implied that the title had been a commercial flop.

In a statement announcing the news, IOI CEO Hakan Abrak said: "I am proud to announce today that IOI is now officially an independent studio. We have successfully concluded our negotiations with Square Enix and have agreed to a management buyout. Crucially, we will keep all of the rights to the Hitman IP."

The statement is also an invitation, selling IOI as a studio to potential investors and partners.

"This is a watershed moment for IOI. As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP - we're about to forge our own future and it's incredibly exciting.

"We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community."

Abrak also thanked Square Enix, saying "it has been a great family to be a part of and we are proud of what we have achieved together."

This all means that Agent 47 will return, which was certainly IO Interactive's plan back in August 2016, when the team discussed plans for three seasons on Twitter. The recent turmoil may well have affected the timeline of those plans however.

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