IO Interactive Interview – Project 007, Managing Sustainable Growth, and More

IO Interactive Brand Director Jonathan Lacaille speaks with GamingBolt about the developer's recent expansions and the project it's currently working on.

Posted By | On 18th, Apr. 2024

IO Interactive Interview – Project 007, Managing Sustainable Growth, and More

Courtesy of the roaring success of Hitman, IO Interactive has expanded rapidly in recent years. In addition to its original Copenhagen studio, the developer has opened up new locations in cities around the world, with its current roster of five studios also pulling in talent from Malmo in Sweden, Barcelona in Spain, Istanbul in Turkey, and Brighton in the UK. That growth, of course, has brought with it bigger ambitions for IO Interactive as a while, and alongside ongoing development on Hitman World of Assassination, the developer has also been at work on two additional major projects in Project 007 and Project Fantasy.

It’s no secret that the games industry has taken a beating over the last year-and-a-half, with a eye-watering number of layoffs, ballooning game development budgets, and a startling amount of studio closures, among other hurdles- so how exactly has IO Interactive ensured that its growth is as sustainable as it was rapid? In a recent interview, we posed those questions to IO Interactive Brand Director Jonathan Lacaille, while also talking about the developer’s inner workings, its ongoing work on multiple projects, and more. Scroll ahead to read our full conversation.

Hitman 3

"One of our main concerns with growth is to prevent a “factory-like” feeling to settle in any of our studios, meaning that above a certain number of people in the same place, you would lose your sense of belonging."

IO Interactive has seen significant growth in recent years, with 300 employees spread across five studios all over the world, while you are also continuing to recruit more people. Can you talk us through what that process has been like? Specifically, how have you tried to balance growth on this scale with ensuring that things such as your internal way of working and your company culture do not get diluted?

One of our main concerns with growth is to prevent a “factory-like” feeling to settle in any of our studios, meaning that above a certain number of people in the same place, you would lose your sense of belonging. We have been operating with the concept of a Dunbar number, set at around 150 people, to make sure we do not overgrow past one studio’s critical mass. With this number of people per studio, we make sure that we keep things dynamic, we foster a human touch in how we work, which makes it easier to instill our values and work culture in every one of our studios.

On the other hand, the creation of studios across different countries means we are able to meet talent where they are and bring more diversity into our fold with people coming from various backgrounds.

Given IO Interactive’s expansions in recent years and your plans for continued growth, what are your views on the games industry’s widespread layoffs over the last 14-15 months? What steps have you taken to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls that so many companies in the industry have been facing?

There have been many changes in the industry during the past few years: the pandemic, the growth of streaming, the digital transformation, which is intensifying, but most importantly inflation as well as the rise of production costs to create video games. All those factors directly impacted the decision-making of every single studio, so, we are seeing the adjustments to the current market and the upcoming trends.

On our end, we are making sure that IOI grows steadily and organically, as we are now moving from one game to three with Project 007, Project Fantasy, and Hitman World of Assassination. Similarly to our philosophy in terms of growth for our studios, we remain responsible and cautious in how we plan for the future but with the goal to deliver to deliver the best experiences possible to our players.

What motivated the decision to branch out and open up studios in different cities around the world? What is the process like from a top-down level in terms of deciding which locations would be best suited to new offices for IO Interactive?

With our philosophy for growth regarding the number of people per studio, our main means of expansion is to open new studios across different locations. We used this as an opportunity to go where the talent is and to go to major hubs of the gaming industry in Europe. Our studios are located in cities that have welcomed major gaming studios which gives us access to a great pool of talent and great inspiration. With our studios located in different countries, we obviously also benefit greatly from the diversity it brings to our studio as a whole.

Project 007 image

"We are making sure that IOI grows steadily and organically, as we are now moving from one game to three with Project 007, Project Fantasy, and Hitman World of Assassination. Similarly to our philosophy in terms of growth for our studios, we remain responsible and cautious in how we plan for the future but with the goal to deliver to deliver the best experiences possible to our players."

With the Hitman series on the backburner for the time being, Project 007 is the next IO Interactive game that many people have their eye on. Given that we are now approaching the four-year anniversary of the announcement that the game had entered development, can you give us an idea of how far away we are from maybe a formal reveal for the game?

We are excited to work on the most ambitious game in the history of our studio. We currently cannot share anything in terms of reveal, but we look forward to sharing more information in the future.

IO Interactive also announced Project Fantasy in February last year. As an online action RPG, it is sounding like an entirely different experience from anything we have seen from IO in the past. How did the concept for this project first come about, and what are the biggest learnings the studio is having to focus on for this completely new kind of project?

We are very proud at IOI of our capacity to create new IPs, and our history proves it is in our DNA, with Hitman as our first game and since the Kane and Lynch, Mini Ninjas, and Freedom Fighters. We have always wanted to explore new genres which will once again be the case with Project Fantasy.

So, in terms of learnings, it still is quite similar to what we have executed in the past and having the amazing and talented people at IOI working on the fantasy genre, we are looking forward to bringing players into this new journey.

With two confirmed upcoming projects and five studios around the world, what does the division of labour for Project 007 and Project Fantasy look like across the entirety of IO Interactive? Is there a clear demarcation in terms of which studio is working on which game, or is the company taking a more fluid approach and spreading out work as and where it is needed?

We take a very fluid approach to how we work on our games indeed. Each and every one of our studios is working on our different projects, for example the game director on Hitman 3 was working from Malmö, while the executive producer was based in Copenhagen. This gives us a lot of flexibility when recruiting new people as we can have them join us through one of our five locations.

project fantasy io interactive

"We take a very fluid approach to how we work on our games indeed. Each and every one of our studios is working on our different projects, for example the game director on Hitman 3 was working from Malmö, while the executive producer was based in Copenhagen. This gives us a lot of flexibility when recruiting new people as we can have them join us through one of our five locations."

We have seen quite a few fun collaborations between IO Interactive and stars like Sean Bean and Dimitri Vegas in recent years. Is that something we can expect to see more of in the years to come, even with projects beyond Hitman?

Those collaborations have been a lot of fun to work on, allowing us to bring new and unexpected content to our players. We create narratives that suit those celebrities’ public persona and find ways to bring them within the World of Assassination. We of course villainize them to fit the storyline of our Elusive Targets and to have a reason Agent 47 has been contracted to eliminate them. Combined with the creative freedom we offer to our players to complete their objectives; it always makes for an entertaining game experience.

Sean Bean is the perfect example of a celebrity Elusive Target with his numerous on-screen deaths and of course the very different ways he has been taken down, which explains a lot of the enthusiasm for him to return to the game.

Also, we are changing the ways to access the Elusive Targets this year as we are introducing them in our Free Starter Pack meaning everyone can play it for free and the Elusive Targets are available on all systems. So, with new players coming in and given the feedback from the community for the return of The Undying, we have been looking at other Elusive Targets and one may arrive sooner rather than later as we recently shared on our social media channels.

Speaking of Sean Bean and future projects, might we perhaps see him in Project 007? He does have some experience with the James Bond IP…

He currently has his hands full with Agent 47, so he would have to get out of his crosshairs first!


Amazing Articles You Might Want To Check Out!

Share Your Thoughts Below  (Always follow our comments policy!)



Keep On Reading!

Valve is Working on a 6v6 Hero Shooter Called Deadlock – Rumour

Valve is Working on a 6v6 Hero Shooter Called Deadlock – Rumour

The game has been in development since 2018 and was previously known as Citadel, a fresh leak has claimed.

Sony is Working on a New PlayStation Handheld That Natively Runs PS4 Games – Rumour

Sony is Working on a New PlayStation Handheld That Natively Runs PS4 Games – Rumour

Sony might be planning more forays into the portable gaming space, as per a journalist's fresh claims.

Take-Two Interactive’s Recently Cancelled Titles Were Not from Any “Core Franchises”

Take-Two Interactive’s Recently Cancelled Titles Were Not from Any “Core Franchises”

The cancelled titles "were not expected to materially affect our net bookings growth," says Take-Two president...

F1 24’s New Dynamic Handling System “Represents a Significant Shift in the Racing Experience,” Director Says

F1 24’s New Dynamic Handling System “Represents a Significant Shift in the Racing Experience,” Director Says

"Particularly for seasoned fans who prefer minimal or no assists while playing," says senior creative director...

Black Myth: Wukong Receives Promising New Trailer Ahead of August Release

Black Myth: Wukong Receives Promising New Trailer Ahead of August Release

Game Science has released a new trailer for its upcoming Soulslike action RPG, offering further glimpses at co...

HBO’s The Last of Us Season 2 Will Reportedly Premiere in the First Half of 2025

HBO’s The Last of Us Season 2 Will Reportedly Premiere in the First Half of 2025

Though a second season of the acclaimed series is in production, an official premiere date is currently unknow...