I'll be honest with you. I don't know how to take this one. Square Enix today released IO Interactive's episodic Hitman game for Mac. While the episodic game was developed and produced while IO was a subsidiary of Square Enix, the decision to publish the game on Mac just days after IO reports that they own the Hitman rights seems like a pretty obvious pushback from SE. While IO has given us what seems to be the definitive word that they own the IP, it does seem like that might have been an overstatement.
We know for a fact that Square Enix plans to continue to develop Hitman, but IO just claimed days ago that they have full rights to the franchise and plan to work on another game – perhaps a follow up to their first episodic season – which was just released by Square Enix on Mac today.
And naturally the press release announcing the Mac port is exceedingly unhelpful. It reads in full:
Io-Interactive's creative stealth action game HITMAN™ has now been released for macOS.
Gather insights and intelligence on the minisite, then snatch the HITMANDemo for free on Steam (click "Download Mac Demo" in the right sidebar of the Steam page) to get familiar with the gameplay of Io-Interactive's superb hit.
Once you have acquired a taste for assassination, buy HITMAN on the Feral Store, or from Steam where HITMAN is currently 66% off.
But that PR push comes from SE according to games press release aggregate, GamesPress but does not show up on Square's internal PR list. So it looks like that messy breakup is still ongoing. And no one actually knows who got the kid in the divorce. Either that or this is just SE's attempt to continue to muddy the intellectual property rights waters enough that IO will not be able to take Hitman to another publisher. Things are absolutely about to get ugly.
Or maybe we'll just end up with two separate Hitman franchises the way we got both The Prestige and The Illusionist in the same year. Or Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. Antz and A Bug's Life. You get the idea.
UPDATE: After being contacted by Feral Interactive, we can confirm that the deal to publish Hitman on Mac and Linux was made before the initial split between IO and SE, and that their deal to port the title was not affected by the split. Feral has had a history of porting games for Square that include Tomb Raider and Thief, so this deal was both companies doing regular business together months in advance of the split, with Feral acting as the primary publisher for these systems. So in summary, the release of the game has little to do with the current rights issues, it's simply the game being released as planned through a publishers who helps port their games.