Microsoft is reportedly nearing a deal to acquire Obsidian Entertainment, the popular development studio behind games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Fallout: New Vegas, and the Pillars of Eternity franchise. According to Kotaku, several sources have confirmed that the acquisition is well along and could be completed soon. Neither Microsoft nor Obsidian have made an official comment on the report.
Three sources are cited in the report, each said to have information regarding the ongoing negotiations. Kotaku quotes one source as stating that the deal is “90%” complete, and another source as saying, “It’s a matter of when, not if.” All sources seem to agree that the deal is likely to be completed soon and may as well be inevitable. Though in the realm of business there’s always a chance that something falls apart at the last second.
Obsidian Entertainment isn’t without prior commitments, either, which probably makes for a rather complicated acquisition. Obsidian previously announced a project made in partnership with 2K’s Private Division label. The status of this project remains active, as a Private Division representative confirmed it was still publishing an upcoming RPG from Obsidian. One would hope Microsoft’s acquisition would allow for Obsidian to continue all of its current projects and retain all of its current staff. Microsoft’s prior acquisitions have been very accommodating to the studios being purchased, so Obsidian should be in good hands.
Obsidian’s acquisition, so long as it reaches completion, will mark the latest in a series of high-profile studio purchases by Microsoft. At E3 2018 Microsoft announced it had acquired Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, Ninja Theory, and Playground Games, three of which have released a game on Xbox One in 2018. Microsoft’s plans are clear in that the company is purchasing studios that can deliver new games on Xbox One and PC now, but can also help broaden the likely line-up of titles coming to Microsoft’s next-gen console in 2-3 years.
As Microsoft’s goals are clear, so seem to be Obsidian’s. By selling to Microsoft, Obsidian can escape the myriad financial issues that have plagued the mid-sized studio throughout the years. After nearly closing in 2012 (following the cancellation of Stormwinds, ironically published by Microsoft), the company has had several struggles. The development of South Park: The Stick of Truth was delayed several times, the multiplayer tank game Armored Warfare was canceled, and while the studio’s Kickstarter efforts have been well-received they were unlikely hugely profitable. Obsidian’s financial stability would be secured.
The acquisition isn’t without worry, though. The future of Obsidian’s franchise, Pillars of Eternity, would be up in the air. And every development studio has to worry that a managerial change within its parent company could lead to major shifts in creative control. Everyone involved obviously hopes for the best, but only time will tell.
Stay tuned for more updates on Microsoft’s reported acquisition of Obsidian Entertainment as they break.