If we had to single out two developers which are the true heirs of the bright and hallowed traditions of CRPG genre, bringing it to the new generations, that would undoubtedly be Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. If you’ve been following the RPG scene for the past few years, you certainly know that both studios consist of some of the best and most talented veterans in the gaming industry. Obsidian Entrainment had graced us with gems such as Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of the Eternity 1 & 2 with the expansions. On the other hand, inXile Entertainment was no less munificent with its creations such as Wasteland 2 and Torment: Tides of Numenera. Both studios had been able to accomplish all of this thanks not only to their immense talent and know-how but also the fact that they had stubbornly preserved their independent status which had allowed them unparalleled creative liberty. Well, until now, at least.
The latest news that had shaken the CRPG community is that Microsoft had just bought both Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. Will Microsoft behave like all-devouring ravenous leviathan which will suppress their creativity and limit their creative scope, or will they, on the contrary, allow them to preserve their independence while upping their finances? That, of course, remains to be seen, although it’s certainly encouraging that at this point Microsoft currently claims that:” As part of Microsoft Studios, inXile will have the support and freedom to fully realize its creative ambitions on both existing franchises and new projects. The studio will continue to operate autonomously and bring its unique talents, IP and expertise to Microsoft Studios as they build new RPG experiences for our players and fans.”
They also had a few nice things to say about Obsidian Entertainment: “As one of the industry’s premiere RPG developers, we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to add their expertise to Microsoft Studios, while enabling the studio to preserve its unique culture and build on its talent and vision to fully realize their creative ambitions.” Admittedly, although this last thing might be something that the PR of the Borg Collective might’ve said before the process of the assimilation starts, it currently seems that this whole affair might prove as the best possible outcome for these two developers as well as global CRPG scene.
Although almost all their recent titles were critically acclaimed and were greeted with genuine excitement and enthusiasm of hardcore CRPG fans, both companies had to rely heavily on alternative funding sources such as Kickstarter (which is a fickle thing at best) and were constantly struggling with the financial difficulties of their own. However (and I’m simply voicing the concerns of the whole CRPG community here), there is always the possibility that, despite Microsoft’s open-minded claims that they’ll retain their independence, this acquisition will drastically influence the creative direction of both Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. The controversial thing is that Microsoft guarantees them independence, and yet they, as it seems, intend to redirect effort of these two famous developers from PC to other platforms. Just as Matt Booty, the head of Microsoft Studios said, all this might be a part of their grand plan to: “deliver content for new platforms and services like Xbox Game Pass, and creating exclusive games that turn players into loyal Xbox fans” What will this mean for CRPG fans (which are, as you know, mostly PC oriented), will they be left out to dry? That remains to be seen, but let’s hope that Microsoft will prove as benevolent maste…err, employer…and that they’ll let Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment do what they do best, and that’s making memorable CRPG games.