Sunday, 11 November 2018

Microsoft (also) buys inXile Entertainment

Hot on the heels of the news that Microsoft has bought CRPG masterminds Obsidian Entertainment, it has also been confirmed that Microsoft has acquired fellow RPG studio inXile. Unlike Obsidian's acquisition, which was widely anticipated, inXile's is a surprise.

inXile Entertainment was founded in 2002 by Bryan Fargo shortly after he quit the company he founded back in the early 1980s, Interplay, after it fell into financial mismanagement involving outside investors. The company survived its first decade by making 3D console ports and then games for mobile devices.

In 2012 the company launched a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter for a new RPG, Wasteland 2 (a sequel to the classic Electronic Arts RPG Wasteland, which in turn had inspired the original Fallout). Released in 2014, Wasteland 2 was a significant sales and critical success. The company followed this up with Torment: Tides of Numenera (2017), a "spiritual successor" to the classic Interplay CRPG Planescape: Torment. Despite strong reviews, Torment sold poorly.

inXile's most recent game, The Bard's Tale IV (2018), attracted mixed critical notices and has also apparently not sold well. This pattern of low sales for their games and the reduced income from crowdfunding - although it should be noted that both Obsidian and inXile moving from the very-well-known Kickstarter platform to the obscure Fig system would not have helped - has likely made it necessary to consider selling the company.

inXile have almost completed work on Wasteland 3, which is due for release in 2019 and will now presumably be a Microsoft-branded game.

Intriguingly, both Obsidian and inXile started as Interplay and unusually (given the passage of 20 years) many of the same people work at both companies, raising the interesting prospect of them perhaps being merged to work on future projects, effectively recreating the "good old days" of Interplay in the 1990s.

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