With Hitman 3 now launched, most hands on deck within IO Interactive will shift to Project 007, and the studio says it expects to even double in size for the project, from its current number of 200 staff up to 400.
Project 007 was announced back in November as the next title from the longtime Hitman developer, which went indie four years ago after breaking off from Square Enix and keeping its Hitman and Freedom Fighters IP.
Project 007 is said to be a brand-new James Bond origin story not linked to any movie versions of the secret agent. Therefore, it also won't look like Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan, or any of the other Bond actors over the years, instead going for an all original version built and characterized in-house. According to TheGamer, IO's ambitions for the project are said to be inspiring the team to staff up to 400 people, many of whom will be working on Project 007 directly. IO plans to open a second studio in Sweden to accommodate the influx in staff.
Evidently, the IP holders of the James Bond brand, MGM and EON Productions, have been hesitant to give anyone the keys to the 007 vehicle because of the often inescapable violent gameplay elements of a shooter, which admittedly do tend to be a bit bloodier than the movies. It seems whatever IO Interactive pitched the IP holders on, not only are they confident they'll need 200 more employees to achieve their ambitions, it's already a small victory to have the project greenlit.
Project 007 is likely years away, but whenever it launches, it will come as the successor to Hitman 3, which is the studio's best-reviewed game to date. Launching last week, it's garnered an OpenCritic average of 86 from over 100 reviewers, making it one of the best-reviewed games of the new year, and likely landing it among the top 10 or 20 games of the year if past scores serve as reliable precedent.
While IO says Hitman is shelved for the foreseeable future, it's worth reiterating that the team also managed to keep its Freedom Fighters IP, so even during Bond, perhaps parts of the team are working on something like that, or maybe even a brand new IP.