I was going to review The Grinch today, but the internet has been all in a tizzy about Microsoft’s newest studio acquisitions. Namely Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. There have been a lot of gifs on the subject. A few of these:
And probably more appropriately some of these:
And while seeing these major RPG studios get gobbled up by a corporate entity known for buying studios and then closing them after a couple disappointing games seems alarming. We all need to take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture.
Both of these studios were having cash problems. It turns out for inXile making RPGs for a niche market doesn’t provide a lot of cashflow, and for Obsidian, they were also releasing niche isometric RPGs that were doing okay, but their major games like South Park were not doing a ton of business. As we saw with TellTale, once cash gets low it only takes one mediocre round of funding, and all your employees are walking out the front door with their knickknacks in a box with no severance package. All of the sudden a major cooperation with a lot of cash and a history of treating employees well seems like a good idea.
Not to mention for most gamers nothing changes in the short term. Obsidian’s next untitled game is still coming out for all platforms on 2K’s new indie label Private Division, and Wasteland 3 from inXile was partially funded on Fig.co, so Microsoft will have to publish the game on all the platforms that were listed there (Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) to honor its investors. These games getting finished was probably not a certainty a few months ago.
Now after those two games, I am sure their next games will be locked in to Microsoft platforms, but their games usually don’t push graphical boundaries, so finding a PC able to run them shouldn’t be an issue. Better yet, so Microsoft can get some ROI we are guaranteed at least one more game from each of these devs. Which we should all be very happy about. Even better Brian Fargo from inXile was going to retire after Wasteland 3 came out, but now it sounds like he is sticking around for a while. It is probably nice being able to just build a game without wondering where all the money will be coming from.
With these purchases Microsoft gains two legendary RPG houses (Even more legendary if you take in to account they used to be Black Isle Studios and Interplay Entertainment. I mean Microsoft needs to buy the Interplay company branding like yesterday), and it gets to add a lot of games to its upcoming PC focused Game Pass, and at least two exclusive RPGs for the Xbox One X2 or whatever they will call it. For everyone else, we get four games instead of none, and even if the studios do close, we know Microsoft will treat those employees properly while they look for their next opportunity. What I am saying is, everyone wins, and sounds like a good deal to me. Better yet, I am betting we are getting that Halo Universe RPG in a few short years, and that is something to be excited about.