In a recent interview, Obsidian Entertainment‘s studio head Feargus Urquhart said that he had been approached by another publisher looking to buy the company before Microsoft. Ultimately, he turned down the offer as it “has to be a cultural fit,” and this offer was not.
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, recorded during October 7’s GI Live London, Urquhart spoke at length about being acquired by Microsoft and what studios should consider when being bought. He talked about what Microsoft said would happen once Obsidian was acquired.
“‘You are gonna be a studio. You get to continue to do what you’re doing,” he said. “‘We want you to continue to be who you are, and we’re pretty much going to back off and let you do what you do.’”
This is in line with the hands-off approach taken by Microsoft when acquiring studios. The company intends to buy studios, such as Obsidian and Bethesda but leaving them to continue to work on what the teams are passionate about, rather than subsuming them into current Microsoft projects.
This was the motivation behind the unnamed publisher’s attempt to buy Obsidian. After asking if Urquhart was open to Obsidian being acquired and he confirmed, “Ultimately, what then they said was, ‘well we’re just having a real hard time hiring people right now’,” Urquhart explained. “‘It would be great to just buy your studio and then take all your people and put them on our projects.’”
The offer wasn’t aligned with Urquhart’s vision and what other Obsidian developers had in mind for the company, so the request was rejected. Since then, Obsidian has developed The Outer Worlds and Grounded, showing Microsoft’s hands-off approach paid off.