The right decision.
Game of Thrones is the biggest TV show on earth right now and it’s not hard to see why. Making its debut in 2011, the show presents a grounded fantasy world steeped in political intrigue where the good guys are just as likely to die as the bad. The show is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series which has also enjoyed massive success.
Fans of the show have been eager to see the world of Westeros brought to video games, and indeed it has been, but we’re yet to get a game that allows us as players to explore the lands of Westeros at our own pace. Many fans would be eager to see a game similar to The Witcher 3 or Skyrim, where players are free to do as they please, rather than command an army like in the RTS Game of Thrones: Genesis, or follow a structured narrative like in Telltale’s Game of Thrones episodic series.
It has recently been revealed by EuroGamer that Obsidian had an opportunity to create a game based upon Game of Thrones, but the studio turned down the offer. Obsidian has created many great RPG games such as Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Pillars of Eternity. It seems Game of Thrones and Obsidian would be a perfect fit, so why did the studio not go for it?
In 2005, six years before the HBO adaptation would hit our screens, EA offered Obsidian the opportunity to create a game based on Game of Thrones. The CEO of Obsidian, Feargus Urquhart, was actually familiar with the books, and had followed them since the first one was published in 1996. He decided to turn down the offer and believes he was right to do so.
“My feeling was, understanding the IP at the time, it’s about this political intrigue, and people’s connection to the IP is to all these characters – that’s how the books are written, each chapter is a person and what’s happening to them.
“Other than what weird stuff is going on beyond The Wall, and the dragons, and some hint [of fantasy/magic], there are no magic users, there are no clerics, no thieves. Basically there’s dudes with swords and armour and a little bit of mysticism, but within the main land [the Seven Kingdoms] there’s no goblins, no kobolds…”
It would be difficult to create a game that managed to give players a meaningful experience without running afoul of the overall story of Game of Thrones and the characters within it. “You can’t give the player a character they can play that is important in this world,” said Urquhart. “All of the important characters are all clearly spelled out and you can’t even really go have a conversation with them.”
“Looking back at it,” he added, “the only thing we could have done is what BioWare did with Knights of the Old Republic. They basically said Episodes 1-6, you can’t touch it, so we’re just going to go way back. But even then some stuff had already been written about it in the [Star Wars] Expanded Universe. With George R. R. Martin there was no other… they talked about some history… we could have done that.
“So maybe there could have been something we could have done but we were starting to think more about open-world RPGs, and we wanted our players to have agency, to be important in the world.”
No doubt many gamers would like to get their hands on a Game of Thrones RPG but it looks like, if it ever gets made, it won’t be Obsidian developing it. There have been rumors that Bethesda is working on a Game of Thrones title, but nothing has yet been confirmed.