After The Outer Worlds, Obsidian Entertainment is stepping into a new chapter as a studio. Late last year, the studio was acquired by Microsoft, a move that Obsidian senior designer Brian Hines says is helping the studio focus on the games it wants to make without any pressure to approach its games differently.
Speaking with Wccftech, Hines explains that the Microsoft acquisition doesn’t give Obsidian an automatic greenlight on whatever the studio dreams up, but it does let the developer focus on its ideas rather than the pitching process. “Now that we’re part of Microsoft, we’re focusing more on what the next games are going to be,” Hines says. “We don’t always have carte blanche to do whatever we want. That’s be fantastic. It definitely is much more focused on like; ‘okay, let’s make the games cool. Let’s make the games we want to make.'”
As Hines tells it, Microsoft didn’t buy Obsidian with intent to force changes on the studio. Instead, Hines says Microsoft is encouraging a continuity between Obsidian’s independent output and their future projects as part of Xbox Game Studios:
Microsoft’s [said] ‘we’re buying you because we want you to keep making games the way you’ve been doing, not to change you.’ And that’s been reassuring a lot of people on the team, we’re not suddenly going to be asked to be a different studio than we have been. We have been given the assurance to keep making these games that our fans like, and hopefully on a grander scale, and better quality.
Since it was founded in 2003, Obsidian has worked with many different publishers across various intellectual properties, both established (Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2) and original (Pillars of Eternity, Alpha Protocol). Since we still haven’t seen first-party, post-acquisition releases from many of Microsoft’s growing list of studios, it’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft supports IP-hopping developers like Obsidian compared to more franchised-focused studios like The Coalition or 343 Industries.
The rest of the interview with Hines focuses on The Outer Worlds, which comes out for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 25. Though it’s published by Private Division, The Outer Worlds is also coming to the PC and Xbox One via Xbox Game Pass at launch, just as a first-party Microsoft title would. A Switch version of The Outer Worlds developed in partnership with Virtuos will be released at a later date.
For more on The Outer Worlds, be sure to read USG’s in-depth interview with Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky of Obsidian from earlier this year.