The news that Microsoft had acquired RPG studios inXile and Obsidian came as a not-entirely-happy surprise among at least some gamers who like the studios as it is—and yes, I'm talking about myself here. I like the games like Bard's Tale 4 that inXile makes, and I really don't want to see that success messed with. In a recent interview with Eurogamer, however, inXile boss Brian Fargo did a pretty good job of making the case that the deal is all upside, as it will give the studio "more resources and potentially more time" to work on its games.
"Most people in development know a little bit of extra time goes an incredibly long way towards the end. I know it doesn't seem like it but it's always the case," Fargo said.
"When you finally get it together, you feel it, you can really focus on iteration. Is the pacing right? Is it hitting the right messages? Do we like the arcs of difficulty? Gosh if I had 90 more days I could really tune that in. As a smaller company it's really hard to get that. That's what this gives us."
InXile isn't going to start producing big-budget games, but Microsoft money will enable it to bridge what Fargo described as "the uncanny valley between the double-A and the triple-A," a space that has grown dramatically more expensive in recent years.
"It's interesting if you think about 2012, when the crowdfunding revolution happened ... The budgets back then were $5 million, $6 million, so we'd raise $3 million from Kickstarter, maybe do another couple of million in Early Access, throw in some more of our money, and you'd be pretty close to having your costs covered," he said. "But since then, the category of what we all consider to be double-A has raised from $15 million to $20 million in that short period of time. The landscape has changed greatly since then.
Some aspects of what the increased funding will allow are obvious: "We want to bring up our visual style and also make sure our launches are smoother," Fargo said. Others may be more subtle.
"Let's say we're doing controller support for Bard's Tale 4. They have a whole user group; let's put it in front of these psychologists and gamers they have up there and see what they like and what they hate, and really hone it in before we release to the public," Fargo said. "Things of that nature allow us to hone our craft."
Fargo emphasized that inXile will continue to have creative control over the games it makes, and said that there's no plan afoot to merge it with Obsidian, although the two studios will have a "tighter relationship" and may "compare notes" now and then. The buyout also means that inXile will no longer crowdfund its projects, despite Fargo being on the Fig advisory board, and his plan to retire after Wasteland 3 is out the window, too. "That's off the table. I'm not going anywhere," he said. "You're stuck with me."