There’s a mighty big rumor that surfaced yesterday courtesy of Jason Schreier of Kotaku. According to sources close to Schreier, Microsoft is preparing to purchase Obsidian Entertainment, the developers known for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, Fallout: New Vegas, and more recently, the excellent Pillars of Eternity series.
On paper at least, this seems to be a perfect match. Microsoft desperately needs help on the RPG front, and with exclusives in general. There are little to no reasons to go for an Xbox One if quality RPGs are your primary concern, and you can only pick one home console.
This is obviously a move for the next generation, but that point still stands based on what video game studios Microsoft currently has control over.
Obsidian, meanwhile, has done pretty well for itself through crowdfunding, but it’s not hard to imagine that most people would prefer the stability of having a multi-billion dollar company getting your back, instead of having to draw from the Kickstarter well every time you want to make a new game and are just hoping that it comes up full.
If true, Microsoft would be acquiring an extremely talented group of developers, known for making great western style RPGs. With what we would presume will be a bigger budget, Obsidian can work on something truly massive for the next generation of consoles and PC.
Microsoft would certainly hope that the reviews for Obsidian’s most recent work, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire translate over to whatever their next hypothetical project would be. Forza Horizon 4 was the one undeniable bright spot this year when it comes to critical acclaim.
If the rumor is eventually confirmed to be true, it speaks to a larger emphasis Microsoft is putting on scoring exclusive games. They would be joining Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza), Ninja Theory (Hellblade), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few) and The Initiative, a brand new studio, all announced this year as being formally under Microsoft’s umbrella now.
We’ve written about plenty of times here at Twinfinite that the Xbox One is an excellent piece of hardware, with a great online infrastructure and the best game download service around, by far thanks to Xbox Game Pass. For this generation though, it has sorely lacked consistent high-quality exclusives.
Nintendo and Sony have been pumping a long, varied list of killer app games all generation long. Titles that motivate consumers to gravitate towards the brand, and feel a sense of loyalty and identity. Unless you’re very attached to the tentpole franchises from the last generation like Halo and Gears of War, there haven’t been many games like that this generation for Microsoft. They have been relying on those stars of the Xbox 360 which are still potent, but not nearly as much as they once were.
Microsoft needs fresh new IPs and ideas, and they need them to stick in the way that Sony and Nintendo have been able to pull off. Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 are solid games, but at launch, they couldn’t reach the level of industry-wide positive buzz and universal critical acclaim.
If Microsoft pulls this off and has all of its new acquisitions, and the old guard like 343, focused on having something ready for the early part of the next generation, whatever the next Xbox is should be in a far better position to succeed than the Xbox One. The 2020 Game Pass could be looking pretty, pretty good…