Microsoft is continuing to invest in a broad spectrum of developers for its Xbox gaming ecosystem with the acquisition of Obsidian and InXile, makers of complex RPGs primarily aimed at PC users. The two studios will join four others snatched up in June, significantly bolstering Xbox’s first-party development resources.
The company announced the acquisitions (rumored for some time) at its XO18 event alongside numerous other interesting developments for the Xbox One and Windows gaming platforms. Xbox Director of Programming Larry Hyrb, better known by his pseudonym Major Nelson, welcomed them to the Microsoft Studios team of owned but independent devs:
Of the two studios Obsidian is probably the best known; Fallout: New Vegas is a modern classic of the open world genre, while Pillars of Eternity and its enormous sequel are a welcome revival of the classic isometric PC RPG. InXile is a bit more niche, though also successful: the Wasteland, Torment, and Bard’s Tale games are similarly appreciated by RPG lovers. The studios will, like the others in Microsoft’s stable, be given significant operational independence, not folded into some internal unit.
Microsoft announced the acquisition of Compulsion, Undead Labs, Ninja Theory, and Playground Games in June. But what’s clear from the more recent gets, that the earlier ones didn’t necessarily indicate, is a big focus on core PC gamers. Microsoft has had a rather mixed mission in that it wants to ensure the success of its Xbox One (and future) consoles, but also wants to bring the huge population of PC gamers into the fold somehow. It would help offset the significant but yet necessarily decisive lead Sony has in the ongoing console wars.
Numerous efforts over the years have failed to impress them and some are in fact still ridiculed. But the collection of some seriously PC-first developers commanding a hardcore audience may help bring some PC gaming wisdom to the Xbox world.
Although console exclusives are not as appreciated as they once were — gamers value cross-platform play far more — it doesn’t help to have a couple to sway undecided buyers or even tempt consumers to buy both. These acquisitions suggest an investment in Microsoft’s first-party development platform that could help close the gap, or prepare a real blitz for the next generation of consoles.
The studios issued videos talking about their take on the development, which you can watch below: