Obsidian CEO worries about other Xbox studios closing down, blissfully unaware that it could happen to them too if ‘The Vow’ fails
4 mins read

Obsidian CEO worries about other Xbox studios closing down, blissfully unaware that it could happen to them too if ‘The Vow’ fails

Following Microsoft’s recent unexpected closure of award-winning studios such as Tango Gameworks (known for hits such as Inside Evil AND Hi-Fi rush) and Arkane Austin (Victim, Redfall), we’re all wondering which studio might be next in line for the chopping block. One studio that should be particularly concerned is Obsidian Entertainment, whose recent track record hasn’t exactly been littered with megahits.

Obsidian’s history is a mix of critically acclaimed titles and commercial disappointments. Although games like Fallout: New Vegas AND Pillars of Eternity gained recognition from both fans and critics, including: Alpha protocol AND Tyranny he even had difficulty finding an audience. Even the well-received ones Outer Worlds it didn’t reach the sales levels of some of its closest rivals.

Now with the upcoming RPG Notorious shrouded in mystery since its announcement during the Xbox Games Showcase in 2020 and still without a firm release date even after the latest one, the pressure is on Obsidian to make it a commercial success.

The Importance of Avowed Performance

A screenshot of the
A scene from the latest Story trailer. | Obsidian entertainment

Obsidian’s upcoming RPG game Notoriousset in the world of Eora z Pillars of Eternity series, is a key production for the studio. With a focus on player choice, character creation, and a solid dialogue system, fans eagerly awaited the game. However, the lack of a firm release date beyond a vague 2024 window has raised concerns about development progress.

Game director Carrie Patel and art director Matt Hansen recently discussed this Notoriousdevelopment progress and the impact of the studio’s closure in an interview with Eurogamer after Xbox Showcase. While they expressed optimism about the game’s development, the threat of Microsoft’s cost cuts is high.

I will say that I came back from the studio last week and the game looks fantastic. The team puts a lot of heart into refining it. So we feel very good about 2024.

—Carrie Patel, Game Director and Senior Narrative Designer at Obsidian Entertainment

Their confidence is admirable, but it is difficult NO worry about what might happen if Notorious does not meet expectations. Xbox has shown that it is not afraid to reduce dead weight and if Notorious doesn’t provide, Obsidian may very well find itself in the same situation as Tango Gameworks and Arkane Austin.

A screenshot from the latest story trailer for Avowed, featuring mystical space elements.
“There are more wonders in this world than the eyes alone can see” | Obsidian entertainment

I don’t believe in living in fear. Especially if you have to invest in the creative process – you have to invest in what you do and you have to believe in it. And I really feel a strong sense of security being part of Obsidian and, you know, being part of a studio that has been a successful independent developer for almost 15, 20 years.

—Carrie Patel, Game Director and Senior Narrative Designer at Obsidian Entertainment

Despite these assurances, it’s hard to ignore the potential impact these closures could have on creativity and risk-taking at Microsoft studios. Will developers be less willing to push boundaries and experiment with new ideas if they fear that failure could result in their studio being closed?

The future of first-party Xbox studios

A screenshot from the latest story trailer for Avowed, the upcoming RPG from Obsidian Entertainment.
So that those who remain can shape its future | Obsidian entertainment

Microsoft’s rationale for closing the studio, as stated by Xbox CEO Sarah Bond during an interview with Bloomberg Live, is to ensure the long-term health of the business by focusing on “high impact” franchises. However, this approach sends an unpleasant signal to developers, suggesting that even the critically acclaimed titles in the studio’s portfolio may not be enough to guarantee its survival.

A success for Obsidian Notorious could decide its fate in the Xbox ecosystem. While the studio remains optimistic, the reality of today’s gaming industry is a harsh one – even critically acclaimed studios can be shut down if they fail to meet sales expectations.

As Patel told Eurogamer:

I’m definitely sad to hear about what’s happened to some of the other studios – it hasn’t diminished my commitment or belief in what we’re doing.

Time will tell whether this commitment and faith will be enough to secure Obsidian’s future in the face of the gaming giant’s ruthless business practices.

Avowed will be released in 2024 on Xbox Series X|S and PC. From day one, the game will also be available on Xbox Game Pass.