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Forward-looking: Hitman developer IO Interactive is developing a James Bond game that shows some promise. The studio isn't ready to share major details on the project yet but has shed some light on how its revival of the Hitman series led it from working on Agent 47 to Agent 007.
In an interview with Eurogamer this week, Hitman developer IO Interactive talked about how and why it decided to follow its successful assassination series with a game about Ian Fleming's iconic spy, James Bond. Discussion about the idea started much earlier than some might expect.
Fans of IO's recent work are likely intrigued to see the company working on 007 because the gameplay structure of the last three Hitman games seems like a logical fit for Bond. The company has proven capable of setting social stealth action in various locales worldwide---a central element of Bond films.
One would think that IO, Eon Productions, and MGM became interested in a new 007 game after the success of the 2016 Hitman title and its sequels. However, the idea emerged around 2013 when IO started work on reinventing Hitman.
The studio previously spoke about its hardships surrounding the poor reception to the 2012 Hitman Absolution. Since launching the well-received Hitman: Blood Money in 2006, IO got somewhat lost in the wilderness, and Absolution's failure forced the studio to rethink everything it was doing.
Company co-owner Christian Elverdam said that when IO started building the concept for Hitman's revival in 2013, discussion about a spy fantasy game soon followed. Not long afterward, the idea of attaching 007 to the fantasy became strong enough for the studio to ask MGM and Eon about it.
When IO announced "Project 007" in 2020, it revealed that the game would be an origin story not based on any of the films. That detail alone is significant because nearly every Bond game has been either a direct adaptation of a movie or has relied on material from them. Co-owner Hakan Abrak said IO's upcoming game would be something this medium can call its own that stands alongside the movies.
Another reason the title could be significant is that it will be the first 007 game in over a decade. The last title featuring the character was 2012's 007 Legends, a celebration of multiple Bond films. The game was so unsuccessful that it led to the closure of its 25-year-old developer Eurocom. A few months after launch, 007 Legends and Activision's other Bond games (including the underrated Blood Stone) got delisted from digital storefronts due to the publisher losing the IP license.
As for Hitman, IO says the series is on hiatus as it focuses on Bond and likely its following MMO project.