Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda Studios will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for next-gen and gaming as a whole, but if you ask me, there’s only one distinct possibility that starts to get my mouth watering. Microsoft already owns Obsidian, the storied RPG-maker. And now Microsoft also owns the studio that owns the Fallout license.
You see where this is going, right?
It’s been nearly a decade since we got the role-playing masterpiece that is Fallout: New Vegas, and while it is widely considered one of the best games in the genre, chances of a follow-up seemed slim. The only reason that New Vegas got made in the first place was mostly timing. Fallout 3 was a hit when it came out, but Bethesda proper was largely focused on Skyrim development, so it contracted a studio that had many developers who already worked with the property before to make the spin-off happen. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since then, the appetite for Fallout New Vegas 2 has been enormous. Many people previously involved with the first game can’t even Instagram an innocuous picture without being asked if, perhaps, they are teasing New Vegas 2. Obsidian also can’t tease a video game without fans frothing at the mouth at the idea that it could be New Vegas 2. It never is, of course. Because Bethesda owns the intellectual property, the possibility of an outside studio making another installment in the franchise seemed unlikely.
But now, everyone is under the same house. And Microsoft has a distinct first-party game problem — and one that games like Fallout: New Vegas 2 could easily solve. The spin-off series remains a beloved entry in the franchise because, unlike mainline Fallout games, it takes role-playing extremely seriously. Your build had a huge effect on what you could and could not do, and even off-kilter stats and attributes could open up doorways and dialogue choices specific to only to folks with a specific type of character.
By contrast, Fallout 4, which was made solely by the folks at Bethesda, hugely diluted dialogue and made combat the end-all-be-all for the experience. Fans like me still played and enjoyed Fallout 4, of course, but we couldn’t help but do so without mourning what had been lost in the process. Obsidian has since recaptured some of that New Vegas old-school RPG flavor through The Outer Worlds, but it’s not quite the same.
Microsoft now has the power to make a lot of fans happy, should it choose to leverage its ownership of both Bethesda and Obsidian. Let’s hope it does the smart thing here.
In This Stream
Microsoft buys Bethesda Softworks: What that means for the future of XboxView all 8 stories Sours: https://www.polygon.com/2020/9/21/21448992/microsoft-bethesda-fallout-new-vegas-2-obsidian-entertainment-xbox-series-x
Fallout: New Vegas Developer Seemingly Working on a Secret RPG
There's a lot going on over at Obsidian Entertainment right now as not only did the studio just release its most recent expansion for The Outer Worlds, but it's also still working on titles like Avowed and Grounded. And while that's already quite a bit for a single studio to have on its plate, it looks as though the developer has yet another project in the works as well with some of the details on this future game being quite intriguing.
Over on Twitter recently, user @monster_wer collected some interesting pieces of info that appeared in a number of employee pages on LinkedIn. Based on the details that were found, a fourth team within Obsidian is apparently working right now on an all-new, secret project. Further information on what this game could be wasn't really given, although it looks as though it has been in the works since 2019. Additionally, one developer mentioned that the title was currently a "prototype", meaning that it could seemingly fall apart in the future.
The one thing that we do seem to know for certain, however, is that the game will be within the RPG genre. One developer who is a systems designer at Obsidian and is seemingly working on this title mentioned on their own LinkedIn page that they are creating "RPG progression" systems. Considering the RPG genre is the one that Obsidian works with the most, this isn't all that shocking to hear about.
Of course, the notion that Obsidian is making another RPG will surely have many fans of the studio begging for the company to work on a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas. The ever-popular open-world RPG is likely Obsidian's most popular game ever made and many who adore the title have been hoping to see a sequel for quite some time. That being said, the likelihood of this new game being New Vegas 2 seems pretty low. Although Bethesda and Obsidian are now owned by the same parent company in Microsoft, the fact that this new project has been in the works since 2019 means that it's surely something else entirely.0comments
So what would you like to see this new game from Obsidian turn out to be? Are you hoping it's a sequel to one of their past titles, or would you like to see something wholly new? Let me know either down in the comments or over on Twitter at @MooreMan12.
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Microsoft now owns Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment, and that leaves Fallout fans with one big question: could this mean we'll get a true sequel to Fallout: New Vegas? Instead of dodging the question outright or directing attention toward its own franchises, Obsidian has leapt into the fray of today's Bethesda acquisition news by giving a smirk and a shrug to the thought of making New Vegas 2.
Yes, hot on the heels of Microsoft announcing that it has acquired Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax and all of its constituent studios, Obsidian—which was added to Xbox Game Studios in 2018—has acknowledged the New Vegas-shaped elephant in the room. Quote-tweeting someone who asked if Fallout: New Vegas 2 "is a legit possibility now," Obsidian responded with a shrugging emoticon. Obsidian also welcomed Bethesda to the Xbox "family" in another tweet.
Obsidian's New Vegas is a favorite amongst USgamer's staff and, both here and in communities across the web, has been held up as a high-point for the Fallout series in the decade since its release. With Obsidian moving on to focus on things like Pillars of Eternity and The Outer Worlds (itself a sort of Fallout and New Vegas successor) while Bethesda has largely side-stepped New Vegas' contributions to Fallout, the idea of an Obsidian-made sequel has seemed like a longshot. Now, you can at least picture how one would take shape.
Then again, this practically unprecedented deal throws up all kinds of interesting overlaps between Xbox-owned studios. Microsoft also owns inXile, which revived the Wasteland series. Fallout, bought by Bethesda in the mid-2000s, is the spiritual successor to Wasteland. Obsidian certainly could make a New Vegas sequel thanks to the Microsoft acquisition, but it's already working on Grounded and Avowed, the latter of which looks like its Pillars of Eternity-universe challenger to Bethesda's Elder Scrolls RPGs. Obsidian could also be more interested in expanding upon the universe of The Outer Worlds than in revisiting the Mojave.
Still, this cheeky tweet shrugging at the possibility of a sequel represents the most hope that fans of New Vegas—one of USgamer's Top 25 RPGs of all-time—could have for a follow-up in years. Microsoft buying up Bethesda's studios and properties has huge implications for the future of Xbox, Game Pass, and all of Bethesda's workers, so we'd do well not to forget that consolidation at this scale isn't necessarily a good thing... but if you're listening to Marty Robbins and Kay Kyser on loop this morning, we can't blame you.
The Bethesda-Obsidian Fallout: New Vegas Controversy Explained
Obsidian Entertainment and Bethesda have one of the most uniquely intertwined histories of any two game development studios, most famously collaborating when Bethesda licensed the franchise IP to Obsidian to make Fallout: New Vegas. Both are seen as giants of the RPG industry, but while Bethesda has released several disappointments in the past few years without risking going under, Obsidian has long been in a far more precarious financial state despite the consistent critical acclaim received by its crowd-funded games like Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity sequel.
The partnership was, at times, far from a happy one. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the Bethesda-Obsidian relationship after Fallout: New Vegas. With Bethesda’s recent acquisition by Microsoft, there have been rumors that Obsidian could be interested in developing another Fallout game, but to understand the possibility of the two companies burying the hatchet, it is important to understand their falling out to begin with.
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Over the last few years, Obsidian has been getting back on its feet. Both Pillars of Eternity games were critically acclaimed, but the studio, concerned that isometric RPGs are no longer a financially viable format, is using the setting of the world of Eora for Avowed, its upcoming first-person RPG title. Avowed is speculated to be aiming directly for The Elder Scrolls’ spot in the market, just as the studio’s last success, The Outer Worlds, marketed itself as a spiritual successor to the Fallout series.
Fallout: New Vegas is held up among the first-person Fallout games as a masterclass in storytelling, creative settings, hilarious factions, and bringing back the sharp satirical wit seen in Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, developed at Black Isle Studios where many Obsidian developers got their start. However, when the game released back in 2010, it was the subject of a controversy that nearly sunk Obsidian Entertainment entirely.
When licensing the Fallout IP to the Obsidian developers who had helped develop the concept to begin with, the contract that Bethesda put forward stipulated that New Vegas needed a Metacritic average of 85 in order for Obsidian to receive a significant bonus. This came at a time when Metacritic’s way of scoring games was under considerable scrutiny, reducing all reviews and by extension games themselves to a simple number out of 100.
Not only that, but treating reviews as a percentage like Metacritic drew some criticism. For example, a reviewer asked to rate Fallout: New Vegas on a scale of 1 to 100 might give the game an 85, but if they were rating the game out of 5 stars, they would give it 4 stars, not 4.25 stars, and that would only be counted as an 80%. This means that the format of the review systems themselves could lead to some misleading score averages on Metacritic that rounded down and did not reflect the opinions of the reviewers.
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Fallout: New Vegas's 84 Metacritic Score
Fallout: New Vegas scored an 84 average on Metacritic, missing out on a lot of money for developing one of the best received Fallout games by a single point. Obsidian’s creative director Chris Avellone took to Twitter to explain that the development deal was “a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn’t,” leading many fans of the game to be disappointed with both Metacritic's system and Bethesda's outsourcing practices.
Without the unspecified bonus, Obsidian Entertainment was put under a lot of financial pressure. The news was published a day after Obsidian was forced to layoff many of its employees, having to cancel another planned Obsidian game codenamed “North Carolina” which the developer was hoping would keep it afloat at the time.
With a single percentage point between Obsidian and its projected future, it seemed unlikely that Obsidian would want to work with Bethesda again despite the success of Fallout: New Vegas in both its critical reception and its sales. However, with the acquisition Bethesda’s parent company by Microsoft, that could all be about to change.
Obsidian Entertainment was bought by Microsoft back in 2018, and with both Bethesda and Obsidian now under the same roof, another New Vegas-esque collaboration could be in the pipeline. Though Bethesda still owns the rights to Fallout, Microsoft could negotiate a more collaborative contract between the two studio’s that makes sure that Obsidian isn’t put under the same financial pressure as it was under after the release of New Vegas.
A New Hope for New Vegas
Whether or not a new game between the two would literally be a sequel to New Vegas is not the main takeaway from the acquisition. What is important, however, is that a studio like Obsidian could now have access to some great IPs, with developers tied deeply to the origins of the Fallout franchise and a proven ability to breathe new creative life into old franchises.
When asked on Twitter whether or not Fallout: New Vegas 2 was a legitimate possibility, the official Obsidian Twitter account responded with a shrug emoji, which could mean that it’s largely up to Bethesda as to whether or not the two studios will collaborate again and bury the hatchet. Some have taken this as a tease, though, as if the shrug wasn't of not knowing but of being unwilling to say. However, the fan response to the possibility of another Obsidian-made Fallout game, especially after many fans found Fallout 4 disappointing, has been huge.
With Obsidian relying largely on unproven IPs with games like Avowed for its future and Bethesda dealing with recent disappointments and a long wait until The Elder Scrolls 6, there may be a big financial incentive for Microsoft to encourage a collaboration between the studios once again.
Not only that, but New Vegas took all of its primary assets from Fallout 3, and Obsidian could easily save money by using the Fallout 4 engine in a sequel, making it another safe financial bet for all companies involved at a time of uncertainty for the RPG industry as gaming enters into the next generation of console hardware. The future of Obsidian and Bethesda’s relationship remains to be seen, but fans who have been holding out for Fallout: New Vegas 2 might have more reason to be hopeful now than they have been for the last decade.
Fallout New Vegas is available now on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.
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American video game developer, subsidiary of Xbox Game Studios
Obsidian Entertainment, Inc. is an American video game developer based in Irvine, California. It was founded in June 2003, shortly before the closure of Black Isle Studios, by ex-Black Isle employees Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone, Chris Parker, Darren Monahan, and Chris Jones.
Although they have created original intellectual property, many of their games are sequels based on licensed properties. Early projects included Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and Neverwinter Nights 2, both sequels to BioWare-developed games. The team then developed their first original game, Alpha Protocol, in 2010. Other notable works from Obsidian include Fallout: New Vegas, Dungeon Siege III, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, all of which are also licensed properties.
Throughout the studio's history, many projects—including Futureblight, Dwarfs, Aliens: Crucible, and Stormlands—were cancelled. Due to having so many projects cancelled, the company entered a severe financial crisis in 2012. As a result, Obsidian decided to crowdfund their next game, Pillars of Eternity, a role-playing game played from an isometric perspective, which ultimately became a success and saved the studio from closure. The team's focus then changed from developing licensed titles to creating original games based on the studio's own intellectual property, including a sequel to Pillars of Eternity.
In November 2018, it was announced that the studio had been acquired by Microsoft and become part of Microsoft Studios (now known as Xbox Game Studios). Their latest release is the adventure survival game Grounded.
Obsidian Entertainment was founded by Feargus Urquhart, Chris Avellone, Chris Parker, Darren Monahan and Chris Jones on June 12, 2003. Prior to the establishment of Obsidian, they worked for Interplay Entertainment's subsidiary Black Isle Studios. At Black Isle they created several role-playing games including Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, and Fallout 2, and collaborated with BioWare on Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, and Baldur's Gate II. Most of these games were critically and commercially successful, but Interplay's financial situation was poor and the studio lost its license to produce Dungeons & Dragons-based games.[a] This led to the cancellation of Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound. Urquhart and most of the staff members were dissatisfied and frustrated with the cancellation, as the game had already been under development for a year and a half. Urquhart became convinced that staying at Black Isle was no longer a "viable option" for the team, and decided to leave the company. He was in his early thirties at the time, and thought that if he did not start a new company soon, he may become too old to do so. Urquhart officially left Interplay in 2003 with Avellone, Parker, Monahan, and Jones, and founded Obsidian Entertainment with them the same year.
At the time of the company's establishment there were seven employees, including the company's five founders. Parker, Urquhart, and Monahan invested $100,000 to $125,000 into their newly founded company. When choosing the name of the company, they had prepared a short list of names for them to choose. The list included "Scorched Earth" and "Three Clown Software". The team eventually chose "Obsidian Entertainment", which they thought was strong, memorable, and felt similar to name of their old studio, Black Isle.
Upon its establishment, the studio needed more capital in order to keep its operation running, and thus needed to gain support from publishers. They approached Electronic Arts, but it did not result in a project. The studio also contacted Ubisoft looking to make a Might & Magic game, but Ubisoft instead ended up contracting with Arkane Studios on that project, which became Dark Messiah of Might & Magic. Obsidian pitched a game to Take-Two Interactive called Futureblight, which was described as a Fallout-style game powered by the Neverwinter Nights engine. Similar to the EA and Ubisoft projects, Futureblight was never made.
Late 2003–2008: Sequels to BioWare games
Towards the end of 2003, the team was contacted by LucasArts president Simon Jeffrey, who requested that Obsidian make an action role-playing game set in the Star Wars universe. The team suggested a game concept which featured first-personlightsaber melee combat and that included established characters like R2-D2. Their idea was rejected, and Jeffrey instead asked Obsidian to create a follow-up to the BioWare-developed Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, as the team at Obsidian was familiar with the technology that the original game used. The partnership between the two companies finalized in late 2003, and development of the game, which became Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, began in October 2003. Obsidian was given 15 months to develop The Sith Lords. Originally set for a holiday 2004 release, LucasArts gave the studio an extension into 2005, before shifting the release date back to holiday 2004 following the Electronic Entertainment Expo. While LucasArts did dispatch members of its own staff to help get the game out on time, a number of features wound up being cut due to time constraints. Due to the moved deadline, Obsidian also did not have enough time to polish the game, and The Sith Lords suffered from crashes and other technical issues. Despite its issues, The Sith Lords was released to positive critical reception. The cut features were eventually restored by modders, who began their effort in 2009 and finished in 2012.
From the beginning, the studio's goal was to be able to develop multiple projects simultaneously, and the decision led the company to expand very quickly. Soon after the development of The Sith Lords began, the team expanded to 20 employees. As of July 2004, it had expanded to 27, with 18 from Black Isle, and others from Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Taldren, Totally Games, Treyarch, and Troika.
Prior to the launch of The Sith Lords, Obsidian was approached by Atari. Atari acquired the license to produce Dungeons & Dragons-based games, and wanted Obsidian to create a sequel to Neverwinter Nights, which became Neverwinter Nights 2. Development of the game began in July 2005 with a team of ten people. The development of the game was headed by Monahan and Avellone. Obsidian became the game's lead developer, while NeverwinterNights creator BioWare provided technical assistance. While they were developing the game, the team's size grew to about 50 people. The team were given sufficient time for the game's development, and Atari was willing to delay the project's targeted release window from Christmas 2005 to October 31, 2006.NeverwinterNights 2 received a generally positive critical reception. Two expansions, Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir, were released in 2007 and 2008.
During NeverwinterNights 2's development, the team approached other publishers to work on additional projects. Disney Interactive Studios commissioned Obsidian to develop a prequel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves called Dwarfs, which was set to be a third-person action game for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Work began in 2005, and the team developed a prototype and was a year into development when Bob Iger replaced Michael Eisner as CEO of The Walt Disney Company. As CEO, Iger led Disney to head in a completely different direction, which made the Snow White franchise "untouchable" and resulted in the cancellation of the project. According to Urquhart, the team loved the game and its cancellation was a "heartbreaking" experience for them.
2009–2014: Alpha Protocol and licensed properties
With the development of Neverwinter Nights 2 coming to an end, Obsidian was contacted by three different publishers. Electronic Arts wanted Obsidian to develop a role-playing game to compete with The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and another publisher was also interested in having Obsidian develop a fantasy RPG. The third publisher was Sega, who wanted the studio to develop an action role-playing game set within the Alien franchise. The game, titled Aliens: Crucible, was to feature base-building, dialogue choices, and character customization. In February 2009, Obsidian sent a prototype to Sega. Sega decided to cancel the game three weeks later without inspecting the demo. The cancellation was officially confirmed in June of that year. At around the same time, Atari again approached Obsidian, this time to revive Baldur's Gate III. Obsidian requested a large budget, which Atari could not afford, and the deal between the two companies fell apart when Atari Europe was sold to Namco Bandai Games.
Despite the cancellation of Aliens: Crucible, Sega was still interested in working with Obsidian to develop another project. Instead of developing a sequel, they were asked to develop a role-playing game based on a new intellectual property. The team came up with an idea of a "spy RPG". Sega approved the idea and decided to help with the game's funding and serve as its publisher. The game would go on to become Alpha Protocol. The game's development was troubled; the team did not have a precise vision for Alpha Protocol and struggled to settle on what gameplay elements to include and what the target audience should be. As a result, it suffered from an identity crisis and featured elements from multiple genres. Sega, for its part, was also unable to make decisions quickly and the publisher cut features from the game after their completion. This resulted in numerous delays and excessively long production time; Alpha Protocol took four years to develop. It was finally released in June 2010.
Their first original game, Alpha Protocol received mostly mixed reviews from critics. It was also a commercial failure for Sega, which led to their decision to put any plans for a sequel on hold. After the game's launch, Urquhart admitted that there was still room for improvements. Even though the game was a commercial failure, it was well received by the community, which has often demanded that Obsidian make a sequel. Urquhart responded by saying that the team hoped that they can develop Alpha Protocol 2, and "do better" with it. Avellone later added that they were unable to develop a sequel because the rights to the game were owned by Sega and crowdfunding would not be a suitable option.
On February 11, 2010, Red Eagle Games and Obsidian announced that they would co-develop one or more games based on The Wheel of Time fantasy novel series by Robert Jordan. On April 25, 2014, however, Urquhart told Computer & Video Games that the agreement between the companies had dissolved after Red Eagle had failed to secure the necessary funding.
At the same time that Alpha Protocol was in development, Obsidian was also working on Fallout: New Vegas. Prior to working on New Vegas, they were contacted by Bethesda Softworks about developing a Star Trek game, but the idea never gained traction. After Bethesda released Fallout 3 and began to shift its own focus back towards its Elder Scrolls series, it approached Obsidian with the idea of having the latter studio develop another game in the Fallout series, as several of Obsidian's founders had worked on the franchise while at Black Isle. In developing New Vegas, Obsidian looked at fan requests, which led to New Vegas giving a more prominent role to the in-game factions. When the concept was pitched to Bethesda, it was immediately approved. The development of New Vegas began soon after the cancellation of Aliens: Crucible, and it was released in October 2010. It received generally positive reviews, with some critics saying that the game's quality exceeded that of the critically acclaimed Fallout 3.
As was the case with The Sith Lords, the development team did not thoroughly assess New Vegas for bugs and glitches before it was released. Some players were unable to play the game due to constant crashes. These problems were later patched and fixed. Obsidian considered New Vegas to be a learning experience; it was the studio's first AAA game, and it taught the studio how to manage quality assurance. Between The Sith Lords and New Vegas, Obsidian had built a reputation for creating games with technical problems. The team was determined to change this with future titles, and made improvements to their bug-tracking system, These improvements were applied to the studio's next project, Dungeon Siege III, a sequel to the Gas Powered Games-developed Dungeon Siege, published by Square Enix. The game received mixed reviews upon release in 2011, but it enjoyed a stable launch.Dungeon Siege III was the first game to use Obsidian's own in-house Onyx engine.
In 2011, the company began working on a third-person open world game named "Stormlands". It was rumored that the game was being produced for the then-unannounced successor to the Xbox 360. The title was ultimately cancelled in 2012 by its publisher, Microsoft Studios, causing Obsidian to lay off between 20 and 30 people. Obsidian then transformed Stormlands into another game title called Fallen and then pitched it to other publishers including 2K Games and Ubisoft. Despite hearing no response from them, Fallen became the foundation for one of Obsidian's future games, Tyranny.
In October 2009, Obsidian was contacted by South Park Digital Studios to develop a game set within the South Park universe. The team originally thought the phone call from South Park Digital Studios was a prank carried out by another company located in the same building. Obsidian met with South Park's creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, with the two parties agreeing that it was critical that the game share the television show's construction paper-like visual aesthetic. Funding was originally provided by Viacom, the parent company of the television channel that South Park is broadcast on. In 2011, Viacom decided to let the video game publisher THQ take over as the game's publisher. Shortly after THQ took over, they entered into a financial crisis, eventually going bankrupt in late 2011. With THQ unable to continue its publishing and funding roles, an auction was held for other publishers to acquire their titles. Obsidian was worried that if the project was cancelled, they too would face severe financial difficulties. Eventually Ubisoft acquired the game, which was released as South Park: The Stick of Truth in March 2014. In mid 2014, the studio announced Armored Warfare, a tank game developed for My.com. It launched in open beta during 2015.
Obsidian has also maintained a friendly relationship with inXile Entertainment. Like Obsidian, inXile was founded by former employees of Interplay Entertainment. The two companies signed an agreement to share their technology with each other. Obsidian assisted in the development of inXile's Wasteland 2 after its Kickstarter campaign raised $2.1 million,Wasteland 2 was released in late 2014 and received generally positive reviews upon release.
2014–2018: Financial troubles and Pillars of Eternity
We said look, somebody is gonna try to Kickstart a game like this. Somebody is going to try to Kickstart an 'isometric 2D background with 3D characters, real-time with pause, fantasy role-playing game.' There's no way that this is going to go untapped for that long. There are enough other ex-Black Isle and Bioware developers out there, that if we don't do it, we're just gonna miss a perfect opportunity.
—Josh Sawyer on crowdfunding Project Eternity
While the studio managed to complete South Park: The Stick of Truth, the company faced a precarious financial position. The studio received only a small "kill fee" for their work on North Carolina. They also lost their bonus for Fallout: New Vegas, as the game failed to meet Bethesda's standard—an aggregate review score of 85 at Metacritic—by 1 point. The team lacked sufficient resources to keep the company's operation running. According to Adam Brennecke, an executive producer at Obsidian, if they failed to pitch a project to a publisher in time they would have exhausted their money and gone bankrupt. At that time, the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter was growing popular and Josh Sawyer, creative director of New Vegas, proposed that the studio put their cancelled game on Kickstarter and attempt to secure funding for it there. Some team members were skeptical about the idea and feared that they may not even be able to raise $100,000 through the platform. The question of whether to pursue a Kickstarter campaign led to numerous debates between key members of the company. The debates ended when Double Fine Adventure's campaign launched and saw huge success.
Secure in the belief that Kickstarter was a viable funding option, the team decided to use it to fund the development of a game they wanted to make for a very long time: a spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate. The Kickstarter campaign for Pillars of Eternity was launched in September 2012 under the working name "Project Eternity", with Obsidian requesting $1.1 million. The studio approached Kickstarter with the mindset that if their campaign was successful the game could eventually be turned into a franchise, while if they were unsuccessful, they would attempt to refine their ideas and try again with another campaign.
Obsidian's campaign was hugely successful, raising $4 million and breaking the record set by Double Fine Adventure.Pillars of Eternity was released in March 2015 to a positive critical reception.Paradox Interactive served as the game's publisher. Obsidian planned an expansion pack, called The White March. It was divided into two different parts, one of which was released on August 25, 2015, and the other on February 16, 2016. A board game for Pillars of Eternity titled Pillars of Eternity: Lords of the Eastern Reach was announced on May 19, 2015. It was developed by Zero Radius Games with input provided by Obsidian. Like the main game, it was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, and it reached its funding goal within a day.
In June 2015, studio co-founder Chris Avellone announced his departure from Obsidian. In August 2015, Obsidian partnered with inXile and Double Fine to launch a new funding website named Fig, with Urquhart serving as a member of the company's advising board. The new platform's aim is to offer "equity crowdfunding", and it will only focus exclusively on video game-related projects. Obsidian is set to use Fig as its future crowdfunding platform.
It was announced in July 2015 that the company was working on the localization for Skyforge. On August 13, 2014, Obsidian announced that they had licensed the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game to make electronic games, starting with a tablet adaptation of it, which was released for iOS and Android devices in April 2016, with releases for other platforms to be announced. Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens also confirmed plans for an Obsidian-developed computer role-playing game. Urquhart had stated a desire to collaborate with BioWare again on a new Star Wars game. After the release of New Vegas, there is also a desire to work on another Fallout game.
On March 15, 2016, Obsidian announced their new project called Tyranny, an isometric RPG set in a world where evil has already won. The game was announced for release in 2016 on Microsoft Windows, Mac and Linux, and was published by Paradox Interactive. The game was originally called Fury, whose concept was created in 2006, and is set in "a world that had been laid waste by a magical apocalypse". The concept later became Defiance, whose concept is similar to that of Tyranny. Defiance, along with ideas of Obsidian's other projects later became Stormlands. As Stormlands was cancelled, the company reconsidered the original idea of Defiance to make Tyranny. In April 2016, Leonard Boyarsky joined Obsidian, becoming the second Troika Games co-founder to work for the company.
On January 27, 2017, Obsidian announced Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and launched a crowdfunding campaign on Fig to raise additional development funds. The project achieved its funding goal in less than a day, and was released in May 2018. In February 2017, it was announced that Obsidian were leaving the development of Armored Warfare in the hands of the game's publisher to finish the project.
2018–present: Microsoft acquisition
On November 10, 2018, it was announced that the studio had been acquired by Microsoft and become part of its Microsoft Studios division. Following the announcement of the acquisition, during The Game Awards ceremony in December 2018, Obsidian announced a new intellectual property named The Outer Worlds, an action role-playing game set in an alternate future in which megacorporations began colonizing and terraforming alien planets. The game was released on October 25, 2019, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and a version for Nintendo Switch released on June 5, 2020. In November 2019, Obsidian announced its next game, titled Grounded, describing it as a "survival adventure where you're the size of an ant". On July 23, 2020, at the Xbox Games Showcase, Obsidian Entertainment revealed a brand new RPG game called Avowed was currently in development for Microsoft Windows and Xbox Series X. In 2021, another unannounced open-world project for PC and console was also found to be in development through a technical artist job posting on the company's website, which was later revealed to be The Outer Worlds 2 during the Xbox + Bethesda E3 2021 showcase.
We have to answer to players, no matter what. When you work for a publisher, you have to answer to both, and the two of them may not see eye-to-eye. I'd rather the player pay me directly for something they want, and I'd rather talk with them throughout the process to make sure I'm delivering something they want as well.
—Chris Avellone, founder of Obsidian Entertainment on Kickstarter
Obsidian built its reputation making sequels in well-established franchises including Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout, and Dungeon Siege. Urquhart has stated that the company is fine with developing sequels, as they are often fun to make since the studio can "get to go play in someone else's world" and further explore and expand upon the original games' ideas. The studio also believes that such licensed projects are easier to develop. Obsidian considered the making of these sequels as stepping stones towards eventually making original games based on their own intellectual property. The studio's focus did later shift towards developing their own games, which allowed Obsidian to maximize their creative freedom and escape the constraints imposed by publishers. The studio has used the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter as an indicator to see whether a game or genre is popular or not.
As an independent company prior to their 2018 acquisition by Microsoft, Obsidian believed that they must act and react quickly to market changes and not stagnate on any certain point. While the core focus of Obsidian was still developing character-driven role-playing games, the team were willing to try out projects that are smaller and are in different genres. The decision to develop Armored Warfare was one result of this strategy.
A dungeon crawler game based on the story of the company's five founders was made. The game was housed in an arcade cabinet inside Obsidian.
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Everything We Know About Obsidian Entertainment's Secret Project
By Joshua Duckworth
Although the game hasn't been announced quite yet, Obsidian Entertainment has a secret project in the works that isn't Avowed or The Outer Worlds 2.
No matter how important or popular they are, no one person is responsible for a video game being big, popular, and well-received. Games are oftentimes made by scores, if not hundreds, of developers, but a lot of gamers may associate one person with the studio the most. For example, it’s impossible to think Bethesda without thinking about Todd Howard or Pete Hines, Naughty Dog without Neil Druckmann, or Epic Games without Tim Sweeney.
For Obsidian Entertainment, that association goes to Josh Sawyer. His experience at Obsidian, as well as prior to it, has led him to work on some of the biggest RPGs out there, such as Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Pillars of Eternity, and The Outer Worlds in some capacity. More specifically, Sawyer was the project director and lead designer for Fallout: New Vegas, known for later publicly releasing his own mod for the game. Pillars of Eternity is also his creation, having convinced Obsidian to use Kickstarter to fund the project, and it set records at the time.
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With all of this in mind, there is a secret project at Obsidian Entertainment led by Josh Sawyer (while also maintaining his role as studio design director). This project has been mentioned once or twice in passing, but it has not been officially showcased. Thanks to these mentions, there are a few things fans know about this project, even if it’s not too much. It is secret after all.
Obsidian Entertainment and Josh Sawyer’s Project
Some context comes from other figures at Obsidian Entertainment. Since its acquisition by Microsoft, the studio has proven to be a busy beaver. Right now, for example, fans know that Grounded is still getting support, and both Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2 are in development. Obsidian Feargus Urquhart once joked that the studio has between one and forty games in development.
Obviously, there are not forty games in development, but Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, and this project make at least three. There could be more at some stage, but that’s the bottom line. Grounded’s Adam Brennecke once said that Obsidian has several big RPGs in development, and that means this project could be another big RPG. It’s not definitive but it’s also a specialty of the studio, so it wouldn’t be surprising.
The first direct mention came after the announcement of Avowed. As many know, Avowed shares a world with Pillars of Eternity, and many were surprised to see that Sawyer wasn’t directly attached. He dabbles in a lot of things in his role as studio design director, but is not a major part of this project. His response at the time was that he does have his own project, it’s just not Avowed.
This led some to believe that it could be The Outer Worlds 2, but that too has since been announced. He’s not directly attached to it either. The most recent comment of this project came recently in a response to a viral Twitter trend about the last 5 games someone has played. Sawyer answered, but also mentioned that he’s played the unreleased Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, and his project.
This means they are all in a playable state, but key context is missing. To what extent they are playable isn’t answered, meaning it could be anything from a small test sandbox to a concrete area or beyond. Based on this information, it does seem like it could be the furthest away. It was mentioned shortly after Avowed but has not received an official announcement. The Outer Worlds 2 was announced before it.
It's not the safest bet, but of three, it may be the furthest behind in development. Avowed has been quiet for the past year, and The Outer Worlds 2 was very self-aware about its state when it was announced. Based on this, fans know that it has been in development for a year, but it could also have started before then or perhaps even before the Microsoft acquisition. The latter seems unlikely, but at the same time, it’s still a headscratcher.
As such, Josh Sawyer’s project, should it live to see the light of day (considering the nature of video game development) is likely far away. Avowed could be out before fans hear of it in a public matter. Or perhaps it’ll come sooner. The only thing known for sure about it is that it’s Sawyer’s project, it's in development at Obsidian, and it has been kept hush-hush.
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Speculation About Obsidian Entertainment’s Secret Project
From here on out, it’s tinfoil hat territory. While it could be anything, many fans know what it isn’t and have had ideas on what it could be. For example, while it seems obvious, it’s not Avowed or The Outer Worlds 2. That also helps eliminate possibilities based on Obsidian’s catalog. Another one it’s not is a South Park game, as while Obsidian made The Stick of Truth, a new South Park game has already been confirmed at an in-house studio.
Others think that it could be Pillars of Eternity 3, and there’s a real possibility there. However, with Avowed taking place in Eora, it seems unlikely the company would be working on two games based on the same IP at the exact same time. Based on this, and based on Obsidian’s backlog, it’s possible to narrow down further possibilities.
The most likely situation seems to be that it’s a new IP. Obsidian has been working on a ton of games in this vein lately, such as Grounded, The Outer Worlds, and Avowed(sort of), and it would make sense if he led his own new project to help define the future of Obsidian. As it is also the most catch-all possibility, the likelihood of this seems higher.
Looking at rumors can take fans into further tinfoil hat territory. Because Obsidian worked on KOTOR 2, because Lucasfilm Games is back and pushing Star Wars games for the post-EA contract world, and because one of thoseStar Wars games is rumored to be an Xbox exclusive, it would make sense if Obsidian worked on a Star Wars game. It may not be KOTOR 3, but it’s right up Obsidian and Sawyer’s alley.
The only thing that may potentially undercut this is the fact that Sawyer joined Obsidian after KOTOR 2, but at the same time, he wouldn’t have needed to. On the flip side of this coin, if there is a special reason that Obsidian hasn't announced this game yet, it could be related to EA's exclusivity contract. If, and it's a pretty big if, Obsidian Entertainment is working on a Star Wars game, there are certainly a couple of stipulations there.
RELATED: Starfield and The Outer Worlds 2 Can Occupy The Same Space
The Biggest Obsidian Entertainment Rumor: Fallout New Vegas 2
Lastly, many look at Fallout: New Vegas as the crown jewel of the franchise. Outsourced to Obsidian by Bethesda, Fallout: New Vegas hit all the right marks for fans, who have wanted a sequel/spiritual successor from Obsidian for many years. Rumors about Fallout: New Orleans or Fallout: New Vegas have reared their heads so often that it could arguably be the most common rumor on the internet. It’s incredibly unlikely that Obsidian is working on this, but if there was someone for the job, it would be Josh Sawyer.
It's worth mentioning that, when Bethesda was acquired by Microsoft and joined Obsidian under its umbrella, someone asked Obsidian if it meant Fallout: New Vegas 2 was a possibility now. Obsidian replied with a text-based shrugging emoji, but because this is already way out there, it’s worth pointing out that Obsidian did not have to respond. It did anyway.
The chances of a new Fallout game happening at Bethesda are high, as a proper Fallout 5 would likely come from there. At the same time, with Starfield releasing in 2022, Fable releasing before The Elder Scrolls 6, and TES6 looking at the mid-2020s in the most giving estimates, Fallout 5 is easily years away. What better way to keep the franchise alive and well this decade than to set up a deal here and get fans a long-wanted and long-rumored game.
Again, so little is known about Obsidian’s project, and it could prove to be completely unrelated to anything the company has done before now. A brand new IP/game from New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity’s Josh Sawyer is exciting on its own, and all the potential possibilities are just icing on the cake. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this project, but that too can be said of Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2. If anything is certain, it’s that Obsidian is quickly becoming the RPG studio to watch.
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Read NextAbout The Author
When Joshua Duckworth received Pokemon Yellow for Christmas at 5-years-old, his fate as a gamer was set. Since then, he's been involved with every step of the gaming industries' growth from the golden PS1 era and the dying days of the arcade to any current gaming trend. When he's not writing, playing his own games, or thinking about writing or playing his games, he's probably the second player to his son's Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu! file. Joshua has an MA degree in English from Jacksonville State University, and the best way to contact him is at [email protected]
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Fallout: New Vegas released a decade ago on October 19th, 2010. New Vegas was the first Fallout from Obsidian Entertainment following Bethesda’s groundbreaking Fallout 3. New Vegas was a bit of a departure from Fallout 3 and launched with some mixed reviews and a plethora of bugs.
A decade later, history looks fondly at Obsidian’s first crack at the series. While Fallout has had a lot of excellent games in the series, New Vegas is seen by many as the best one. Obsidian did an incredible job in an 18 month development period of making one of the best written RPGs of the last decade and put their stamp on a series they were contracted for.
It is no secret that fans and even Obsidian themselves would want another Fallout game by Obsidian. Whether that game is “Fallout New Vegas 2” or a game in a completely new setting. The possibility of this ever happening always felt like wishful thinking rather than an actual opportunity. For a myriad of reasons, Obsidian was never given the opportunity to make another Fallout.
Up until a month ago a new Fallout under Obsidian felt out of reach. That was until Microsoft purchased Zenimax Media, parent company of Bethesda, owners of the Fallout IP. Obsidian, who were acquired by Microsoft a few years ago, are now suddenly in a position where they are in the same family of studios as Bethesda.
What has seemed like a far away dream for so long is now a realistic possibility. There is a chance that Obsidian could get the opportunity to make another Fallout. Something that fans have been wanting for close to a decade has the potential to actually happen. The big question is, how likely is this to actually happen. And if it happens, when?
When and if this happens is a bit complicated. Obsidian probably wants to make another Fallout game at some point. They have discussed wanting the opportunity to make one but for a few reasons it just didn’t happen. For this to happen, Obsidian would likely have to get Bethesda’s blessing. Even though Xbox now owns Bethesda, it seems unlikely that Xbox would let other studios work on IP that Bethesda owns without their permission.
It is unclear whether Bethesda would be okay with this. Perhaps it could be a situation like we saw for New Vegas. Bethesda was busy making Skyrim so they let Obsidian work on New Vegas so there wouldn’t be a large gap between Fallout games. Realistically, Bethesda will be busy with Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI for the next 5+ years. This doesn’t give Bethesda time to make another mainline Fallout entry for a long time.
This means Obsidian could potentially make a Fallout while Bethesda is working on other games. However this doesn’t seem likely anytime soon. Obsidian has numerous projects of their own. Between Grounded, Avowed and the sequel to The Outer Worlds, Obsidian has a lot they will be busy with over the next few years. It seems unlikely that they are able to even begin thinking about Fallout while their main team is working on what sounds like an incredibly ambitious game in Avowed. Their side teams will be working on The Outer Worlds 2 and Grounded, so there doesn’t seem like any room to even begin thinking about another game right now.
A game like Fallout will require all hands on deck and the primary focus of any studio. Obsidian would probably want another opportunity to make Fallout, but as of now there does not seem to be time for Obsidian to focus on what would need an incredible amount of attention. There is a chance that after Avowed is released their team can focus on Fallout. But again, that would require Bethesda giving the go ahead.
There are a lot of factors that have to be considered here. A new Fallout game from Obsidian is very possible, it will just require a lot of things to fall in place. If everything works out, fans may finally get the Obsidian Fallout that has long been clamored for. It might just take longer than we want. At this point, the fact that it realistically could happen is good enough.