Thoughts on Microsoft’s new RPG developers

The recent X018 event that Microsoft held in Mexico City had a lot of news in relation to what is coming up for games on Xbox but the announcement of two studios joining the team showed a further commitment to building out their games portfolio.

It’s not the first time that Microsoft have brought in developers talented in certain genres – RTS specialist Ensemble Studios is a good example – but it’s a first for them to bring in not one but two RPG developers in Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. And both their histories are closely intertwined with that of the legendary Black Isle Studios (Icewind Dale, Planescape Torment… oh, and publisher of that Baldur’s Gate game too) and its parent company Interplay.

Unlike Ensemble though, both have a long history of developing on multiple platforms. In fact, both their first games were for consoles with Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (Obsidian) and The Bard’s Tale (inXile). Their more recent turns in developing “classic style” PC RPGs have been great in reinvigorating the genre while they’ve also dabbled in porting those game to consoles. With Microsoft’s Game Pass and Play Anywhere initiatives, the opportunity for their future games to reach a broader range of people will hopefully bring them greater success.

The usual argument of a new corporate overlord (ie. Microsoft) driving them into the ground after a couple of years of service still gets thrown around but the question also has to be asked is whether they could continue to be as successful at that same level without that new found support. Obsidian especially had its fair share of bad news over the years (there was even an earlier Microsoft deal that fell apart) so the kind of stability this new arrangement brings probably feels like a fresh start for many of the veterans working there.

Still… these are very early times and there’s no news of any games that will be coming out as a result of this. Maybe we will see some additional titles in their existing catalogues make the jump to Xbox for the next E3 (Bards Tale 4 seems like a promising fit) but it’ll probably still be a while more before we see anything beyond that.

These guys have made a lot of the RPGs I’ve played and enjoyed over the years so if this means I get to play more of them in the future then I can’t think this is anything but great news.

Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments below.

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