Ubisoft Massive’s Ryan Barnard, the game director who worked on The Division, has left the studio after accepting an offer for a position at IO Interactive.
The announcement came from a post made on IO Interactive’s company website, and comes hot on the heels of The Division‘s massive critical and financial successes. While the deal with Barnard was likely reached prior to the release of Ubisoft’s MMORPG/shooter hybrid, the news that The Division set a new IP sales record in its first week is sure to make IO Interactive confident about its decision to acquire Barnard. A spokesperson for IO Interactive stated:
“Ryan will focus on expanding on the near-endless possibilities of gameplay that a game like Hitman possesses…this means heading up future efforts of three of our very core teams – gameplay, online and world.”
If Barnard can bring the same kind of depth of gameplay and character design that The Division features to the Hitman series, fans of Agent 47 are in for a true renaissance era for everyone’s favorite bald and barcoded assassin. Although leaving a project as wildly successful as The Division is never an easy choice, the fact that the newest Hitman game has been praised as one of the best in the franchise’s history means the transition shouldn’t be too difficult for Barnard.
While the move seems to make sense for both parties, however, it remains unclear just what being a Gameplay Director actually entails. Barnard’s experience with titles like EverQuest 2 and Warhammer Online might help bring a steady hand to IO Interactive’s recent decision to make Hitman episodic, however, whatever his official role might be.
For those fans who might be worried that The Division‘s strong start at release might be hampered by the departure of Ubisoft Massive’s game director, it’s important to keep in mind that The Division is a game that was made with the help of a lot of different studios. While it would be foolish to understate how much a game director brings to each of their individual projects, there are plenty of practiced hands available within the ranks at Ubisoft to ensure that The Division remains one of the best shooters available today.
One studio’s loss is another’s gain, however, and fans of the Hitman series should be excited that an industry talent so fresh off the success of a huge release is now turning his attention to their game. It remains to be seen exactly what Barnard will be doing with Hitman, but if his past endeavors are any indication, it’s reasonable to expect it will be something exciting.
What do you think about the news that someone so heavily involved with The Division has left the game’s team? Are you excited about what this move could mean for IO Interactive and the Hitman series? Let us know in the comments below.