Well this sucks. IO Interactive, the development studio behind the Hitman franchise, has been put up for sale by publisher Square Enix.

To make matters worse, from the sounds of things, if a buyer for IO cannot be found, the studio may have to be shut down. This means that the future of both the studio and Agent 47 have been thrown into serious doubt.

“To maximize player satisfaction as well as market potential going forward, we are focusing our resources and energies on key franchises and studios. As a result, the Company has regrettably decided to withdraw from the business of IO INTERACTIVE A/S, a wholly‐owned subsidiary and a Danish corporation, as of March 31, 2017,” Square Enix said in a statement.

“This decision has resulted in booking of the extraordinary loss amounting to 4,898 million yen, including disposition of the content production account related to the business and impairment loss of intangible assets, in the financial results for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017.”

The news may come as a shock to anyone who played last year’s instalment of Hitman – simply titled ‘Hitman’ – as it’s arguably the best entry in the stealth franchise to date and one of the best games release in 2017.

That having been said, it may have been possible that IO’s decision to release the game in episodic DLC format may have hurt sales. It’s not inconceivable that Square Enix could attempt to recoup some of its losses by shutting down the studio.

It’s our hope and fervent prayer this doesn’t happen. Not only do we want to see what IO Interactive had planned for Hitman’s second season, but it would be a massive shame to see the back of both the studio and Agent 47.