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Rumours about acquisition by Microsoft

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Two scenarios for a publisher-owned Obsidian:

 

1) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of AAA open world RPGs to compete with Bethesda and CD Projekt.

 

2) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of higher budget isometric RPGs to compete with Larian.

Edited by Infinitron
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I don't get it.

Unless Microsoft plans to rebuild Obsidian into AAA developer, they are not about to produce system selling titles.

Or was that stormlands concept that promising?

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There are two scenarios for a publisher-owned Obsidian:

 

1) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of AAA open world RPGs to compete with Bethesda and CD Projekt.

 

2) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of higher budget isometric RPGs to compete with Larian.

 

And this is why I didn't believe the rumour to begin with, and still don't because this new one is coming from Kotaku and I don't trust them at all. Obsidian aren't a AAA open world RPG developer and Larian produces niche games in a niche genre that Microsoft can't be that interested in, especially since they don't translate well to consoles.

 

The other studios they bought recently make more sense, being hits on the Xbox platform. They did buy Compulsion games, which has released two games with mediocre reviews and not a lot of sales, which is odd. Although maybe they pitched Microsoft a really good project when they were working together on the We Happy Few Xbox One version.

 

Something doesn't make sense, if this is happening there's something that hasn't been mentioned in this thread.

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There are two scenarios for a publisher-owned Obsidian:

 

1) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of AAA open world RPGs to compete with Bethesda and CD Projekt.

 

2) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of higher budget isometric RPGs to compete with Larian.

 

3) Let Obisidian's unique brand of rpg-design deepen and soar to establish a unique cornerstone in what will be Microsoft's exclusive portfolio. Use strong targeted marketing to open the mind's of a new generation to these deeper games. Play on fandom and the desire to live in whatever world Obsidian crafts to create an undeniably rich IP and Universe. Allow the preferences of the hardcore to drive the ultimate game design and depth, with an emphasis on creating new systems that don't just derive from past rpg systems. (I.e. Let Josh Sawyer roast sacred cows.) Use the large budget to polish the experience and create proper introductory content so more casual players can digest the game systems.

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I don't get it.

Unless Microsoft plans to rebuild Obsidian into AAA developer, they are not about to produce system selling titles.

Or was that stormlands concept that promising?

 

Rebuild? They are already making AAA open world game. 


Hate the living, love the dead.

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Pillars of Eternity third person action rpg.


Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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I'd argue on the AAA part.

Obsidian never delivered top of the line production values.

And that's usually what it takes to get people into a new console.

 

I think you could argue New Vegas was considering the stagnation of the consoles limiting what multiplatform games could be and Oblivion/Fallout 3/Skyrim being considered AAA despite everything. All the other games look 2-5 years behind the top of the line.

That's how you get a DA2, do you want another DA2?

Or Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.
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https://twitter.com/Obsidian/status/1050189816430641152

 

Obsidian AMA tomorrow to "answer questions about Obsidian, Pillars, and the recent @shacknews long read, Beneath a Starless Sky!"

 

The lineup in the picture (Dowling, Aruga, Bell, Brennecke, Kirsch, Dollarhyde) doesn't include any ownership-types, though.  So, despite the "Rumors" hype, I'm guessing that questions about possible sale of the company will only lead to more clever deflection. 

Edited by Enoch
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https://twitter.com/Obsidian/status/1050189816430641152

 

Obsidian AMA tomorrow to "answer questions about Obsidian, Pillars, and the recent @shacknews long read, Beneath a Starless Sky!"

 

The lineup in the picture (Dowling, Aruga, Bell, Brennecke, Kirsch, Dollarhyde) doesn't include any ownership-types, though.  So, despite the "Rumors" hype, I'm guessing that questions about possible sale of the company will only lead to more clever deflection.

Can we please all go there tomorrow and only ask questions about the 2011 film Rampart.

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I hope it's not open world like Bethesda, CD Projekt and all the other AAA devs are making these days. Most, not all, but most open world games just waste my time with dead empty space. I much prefer hub style areas which Pillars, Dragon Age (not 3), Vampyr, and more did.

 

I get the popularity of them (young people with all the time in the world, 'OPEN WORLD' sounds marketable, and so on) but I wonder if Obsidian could perhaps avoid that aspect and still be successful critically and financially.

 

In any case, I don't know what to expect from their upcoming Xbox (+PC?) game. I know Infinity Engine isometric real time with pause is unlikely to be the direction they go with due to the amount of micro required (plus I also asked a dev on Pillars of Eternity and they said they themselves wish it was Turn Based instead of Real Time due to too much micro). Could they do something like Dragon Age Origins, which also reduced micro to 4 instead of 6? Perhaps.

 

I doubt being Turn Based will happen too. Yes Divinity and XCOM did really well. But on Consoles, with backing of Microsoft who wants to sell millions? I kinda doubt it.

 

What's more likely is Obsidian making an ARPG where combat is real time and more player-driven that 'auto-battled'. I'm not sure in what form it would take. The Witcher? Souls style? Bethesda?

 

And that's assuming their next game isn't an FPS/TPS. I mean, there's the possibility that Obsidian could also be making a sequel/reboot to Perfect Dark :blink:

 

And y'know... it wouldn't be too much of a stretch given that Obsidiain has made Alpha Protocol :yes:

 

EDIT: Huh...

 

https://generacionxbox.com/renovacion-perfect-dark-xbox/

 

Apparently MS recently renewed trademarks for Perfect Dark...

Edited by DaCobbler

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Does anyone has an insight or track what is history of M$ and acquired studios, did they end well?

If M$ just want the tools and titles to promote Xbox and Windows, but giving studios general freedom as long as title will reach profit, that could fine.

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AwesomeOcelot listed some studios that MS bought maybe a page earlier. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is FASA and they were shuttered but managed a couple more decent games after being acquired.


Free games updated 3/6/19

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2) Try to build up Obsidian as a developer of higher budget isometric RPGs to compete with Larian.

 

That doesn't sound very likely to me. While there must be a few people in MS who actually like Obsidian's produce, the bean counters just see the profit and how to make it more profitable (supported by MS's marketing department). And I don't think Larian is making significantly more profit than Obsidian, if at all.

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Does anyone has an insight or track what is history of M$ and acquired studios, did they end well?

If M$ just want the tools and titles to promote Xbox and Windows, but giving studios general freedom as long as title will reach profit, that could fine.

 

FASA studios - acquired 1999, closed 2007

Digital Anvil - acquired 2000, closed 2006

Bungie - acquired 2000, became independent from MS 2007

Ensemble Studios - acquired 2001, closed 2008

Rare - acquired 2002, active

Lionhead studios - acquired 2006, closed 2016

Bigpark - acquired 2009, active

Twisted Pixels - acquired 2011, became independent from MS 2015

PressPlay - acquired 2012, closed 2016

Mojang AB - acquired 2014, active

Undead Labs - acquired 2018, active

Ninja Theory - acquired, 2018 active

Playground Games - acquired 2018, active

Compulsion Games - acquired 2018, active

 

I think the other game subsidiaries they own or owned were all launched by Microsoft, but not 100% sure.  I also wasn't sure if Aces Studio (closed 2009) was started by MS to keep Microsoft Flight Simulator going or if it was formed out of the Bruce Artwick Organization when they bought it and the MSFS assets in 1995.

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It's strange how a developer that made some of the best console games of the 90's can struggle really badly in 2001 and ask to be bought out by Nintendo, Activision, or Microsoft. In the end Rare was going to die regardless of who bought them.

 

It's why I have pledged a lot of money to Kickstarter, the model is broken, the publishers are not good for the industry. Why does Obsidian need to sell to Microsoft to die in a few years? I want developers to own IP, to receive the majority of royalties from sales, to reinvest into development.

I don't understand after what happened at Interplay, what happened with Microsoft cancelling a project, how anyone at Obsidian thinks it's a good idea. The same type of people are still at Microsoft, they think and act like the idiots at Interplay.

 

PC gaming has a bigger share of revenue, a larger market than the consoles, all of them, that's despite publishers for 20 years under investing in PC games, despite development being console led producing worse games on PC.

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Acquisitions happen when the former owners want an exit strategy where they can immediate make liquid the value that their company has been built up to. So they seek someone to buy them out. This usually happens when the owners are nearing retirement and having a guaranteed lump sum is more desired over unpredictable future dividends. The buyer is essentially taking a gamble, but it's worth it because the investment in building up a company has already been done. Plus they can acquire all the intellectual property of the studio. Even if they run it into the ground eventually, the one time fee to own the studio outright allows them more freedom to aggressively squeeze the company to make back the returns. This is part of the reason most acquired companies either die or lose their identity.

 

If Microsoft instead of seeking returns, sees Obsidian as a long term investment where their value is not in their return value. But in the ability to move hardware sales. Then I think Obsidian has a surviving chance. This has essentially been Sony's model. EA doesn't have hardware to reclaim their acquisition loses, but there is no reason why Microsoft should be operating the same way. Sadly most of their first parties have been used to sell business gimmicks like Kinectimals in the past. Or in the case of their strongest first-party titles (Epic' Gears, and Bungie's Halo) Microsoft didn't actually own the talent behind the IPs. Where those IPs degraded with every year.

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I read Jason Schreier's book - "Blood, Sweat and Pixels" and he wrote interesting things about Obsidian making Stormlands which was canceled and situation of Ensemble. Without supervision from Microsoft Ensemble divided itself into few cliques which were making sci-fi Diablo clone, sci-fi WoW clone and console RTS while main team was warking on Age of Empires. It seamed that Microsoft didn't care much about things going on in Ensemble as long as they were working on Age of Empires 3 and later when console RTS was swtiched into Halo Wars. But the troubles came later.

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I miss Ensemble too. It was still probably the best time of my life. I'm not intimate on the details of its closing, but what I understood at the time does not have me fearing for Obsidian now should Microsoft buy them.

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"Show me a man who "plays fair" and I'll show you a very talented cheater."

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