‘Hitman’ Art: IO Interactive

Arguably the closest thing to James Bond in gaming in the past decade has been the celebrated ‘World of Assassination’ trilogy of the “Hitman” games.

So it came as not a huge shock when IO Interactive, the developers behind that game series, were teaming with MGM and EON Productions for a game title that will serve as the first-ever James Bond origin story.

Announced in late 2020, the game was touted as featuring a wholly original Bond story as “players will step into the shoes of the world’s favourite Secret Agent to earn their 00 status in the very first James Bond origin story.”

It has been radio silence then, but IO co-owners Christian Elverdam and Hakan Abrak recently spoke with Eurogamer and were asked if there was anything more they could say.

Turns out quite a bit. Elverdam confirms this take on Bond will be very much its own character, not a screen adaptation of an existing Bond on screen so no Sean Connery or Daniel Craig looking lead player, and no continuity from the movies:

“For us it’s been about finding a mutual understanding of ‘what is James Bond about?’ and as we’ve talked about we’re doing an origin [story], because one thing, to show the trust they’ve instilled in us, is that we’re allowed to build a James Bond for the games [audience].

I think [it] is a profound homage to where our industry is and where the medium is, in the sense that yes, it’s time to have a James Bond character who was not a movie character but who’s comfortably just his own game character.

Getting to earn that trust has been very, very, humbling, and we feel honoured. I think we can safely say we’re very good at agent fantasy and everything we’ve learned with our Hitman franchise, and now we’re rediscovering new sides of the agent fantasy with James Bond.”

IO has famously turned around its own fortunes and the entire “Hitman” franchise in recent years. The reboot trilogy came at a time when the spy game genre was barren and ran from 2016-2021.

These days the titles are as popular as they ever were, and were recently delisted to incorporate all three games and into one single mega-title “Hitman: World of Assassination” – making it easy for newcomers to hop onboard (anyone who owns “Hitman 3” gets the mega-title update free).

It has also proven a great test case for IO in terms of handling Bond, showing how they can build a single-player game that also has a large fanbase and community around it and stands very much on its own. Abrak says:

“I think some of these things are something that appealed to them, both at MGM and Eon. It’s not just capitalising on IP and doing one game and trying to earn something – it’s not like that.

When we commit to something we commit with everything: with the community and how we grow this love for the game we’re doing, and for the IP that we also promised we will treat like our own. And we’ll create a community that the gamers can call their own.

It’s something that can stand next to the TV and the movies and whatnot. This can be something where the gamers say, ‘Well it’s not just a gamification of a video [and] did they convey Daniel Craig well or not? I don’t know, let me look at the pixels.’ It’s an origin story. It’s the beginning of something new and it’s the beginning, hopefully, of something that the gamers can call their own.”

Sadly no word as yet regarding when we’ll hear more about the title which will mark the first major new Bond game in over a decade. How the new game will differentiate from “Hitman,” ie. being less stealth sandbox and more story-driven, we won’t know for a while.

For the full interview, head over to Eurogamer

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