Microsoft is in the final stages of coming to terms on a buyout deal for Fallout: New Vegas and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II developer Obsidian Entertainment, according to a new report. Multiple sources told Kotaku that a deal is nearly finished, though it may not be finalised as of yet.
Microsoft offered the expected, “We do not comment on rumours or speculation” when approached by GameSpot, but Obsidian took things further. The company opted to kick off an internal development argument about music.
Obsidian PR manager Mikey Dowling said his company would similarly not comment on the speculation, except for when it comes to albums called Rumours. “Unfortunately, we don’t comment on rumours or speculation other than to say that the Rumours album by Fleetwood Mac still holds up,” he said in a statement to Kotaku. And now, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart said he prefers the band Timex Social Club’s 1986 hit single “Rumors.”
“We do not comment on rumours or speculation, but unlike our PR Manager Mikey Dowling, I can’t get enough of Rumours by Timex Social Club,” he told GameSpot.
Back to the seriousness: the Kotaku report cites one source saying Microsoft’s deal to buy out Obsidian was “90 percent finished.” Another tipster said it’s just a matter of time before the deal closes. Nothing is certain, however, as sometimes deals that look solid fall through in the 11th hour.
Obsidian was founded in 2003 and has remained independent since then. The studio made a name for itself with 2004’s KOTOR II, which was followed up by Neverwinter Nights 2 in 2006. The Irvine, California-based studio put out an original game, Alpha Protocol, with publisher Sega in 2010. That was also the year that Obsidian released one of its best-known projects, Fallout: New Vegas, in partnership with Bethesda. In 2014, Obsidian partnered with another big company, Ubisoft, for the South Park game The Stick of Truth. After that, the studio turned to Kickstarter for a new RPG called Pillars of Eternity; the 2018 sequel Deadfire was also funded on Kickstarter.
Obsidian was facing financial trouble in 2012, according to Kotaku, after Microsoft reportedly cancelled an RPG that the Xbox company hired them to create as an exclusive. After that, Obsidian made the unexpected announcement of partnering with Russian company My.com for a tank game. Obsidian stopped working on the tank game, Armored Warfare, at the beginning of 2017.
Obsidian is currently working on an unannounced RPG that will be published by Rockstar and 2K parent company Take-Two Interactive’s new indie publishing arm Private Division. This game won’t have microtransactions but that’s pretty much all that’s known about it. What happens to this game if Microsoft buys Obsidian remains to be seen, but Private Division plans to publish it.
“While it is our policy not to comment on rumours or speculation, we look forward to publishing the upcoming RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, and remain confident in the team there to deliver an outstanding game,” a spokesperson for Private Division told Kotaku.
Microsoft has been criticised for not having enough good exclusive games relative to Sony and Nintendo. Seemingly in response to this, Microsoft announced at E3 that it acquired four big-name studios, including Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Ninja Theory (Hellblade), Compulsion Games (We Happy Few), and Undead Labs (State of Decay). Additionally, Microsoft created a brand-new studio called The Initiative, which is headed up by a former Square Enix and Activision boss. Recently, Microsoft hired Red Dead Redemption’s lead writer/designer and God of War’s producer for this studio.
Earlier this year, Xbox boss Phil Spencer teased yet another studio acquisition. He told GameSpot sister site CNET, ” I’ve been explicit that we needed to up our investment in our first-party studios, and at E3 we announced the addition of five new studios. I don’t think we’re done. People want to play great games on our platform.”
Another source told Kotaku that Microsoft wants to do more in the PC gaming space. Obsidian is principally a PC-focused studio, so the studio being targeted makes sense in theory at least.
No details about the terms of Microsoft’s supposed buyout of Obsidian are available at this stage, but keep checking back with GameSpot for more.