IO Interactive, developer of the recent Hitman: Absolution, has announced that it has laid-off nearly half of its current workforce as part of a refocus within the studio. The move is in response to “a changing and challenging market”.

Publisher Square Enix Europe told Gamesindustry.biz that all other projects that were in development at the studio have been canned so that the team can refocus their attention on a new title in the Hitman franchise. As part of this refocus, production director Hannes Seifert is the new studio head.

Square Enix released the following statement:

“The studio will focus resolutely on the future vision for the Hitman franchise and is in pre-production on a new AAA Hitman project. However we have taken the difficult decision to cancel other studio projects and initiatives at IO and reduce the workforce in this studio, which will impact almost half of the employees currently at IO, as we make internal adjustments to face the challenges of today’s market.”

“For those affected, we are extremely grateful for the hard work which they have contributed, and where it’s possible and appropriate to relocate staff to open positions at other studios within the group, we will try to do so,” the statement continued. “We are also reaching out to other companies for outplacement opportunities. We sincerely wish them well in their future careers. If you are part of a company that is looking for additional development talent, please contact us directly at info@ioi.dk”

As always it’s sad to see staff being laid-off, but that’s the nature of the gaming industry and hopefully those talented staff will find new positions relatively quickly.

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Tom has been a member of the Xboxer360.com team since November 2009. He represents the cobbled streets and chimney sweeps of the North, and yes he does have a funny accent.