Why it matters: Long-time fans of independent development studio Obsidian (best-known for the creation of Pillars of Eternity, Fallout: New Vegas, and other RPGs) may be interested to learn that Microsoft is reportedly in advanced talks to purchase the company. Individuals familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, say the deal is "90%" finished, and that "It's a matter of when, not if."
Fans of independent game development studio Obsidian's work (such as the critically-acclaimed Pillars of Eternity or Fallout: New Vegas) might be slightly concerned to hear that Microsoft is reportedly in advanced talks to purchase the company.
This information comes courtesy of a Kotaku report, penned by Jason Schreier. According to sources familiar with the matter, the deal is "90% finished," and "It's a matter of when, not if." Of course, as Schreier notes, acquisition deals fail all the time, even at the eleventh hour. Developers or purchasers might get cold feet, or both sides may simply be unable to reach a satisfactory agreement.
Whether you love or hate Microsoft, there's always some risk associated with a major publisher picking up a smaller, independent studio. EA is known for buying and later shuttering numerous studios (most recently Visceral Games) when their work fails to live up to the publisher's lofty sales expectations.
While Microsoft does not have the same track record, there's still a chance the software giant could try to influence Obisidian's creative control in future projects.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Obsidian's latest RPG.
However, from a less cynical point of view, this could also be a major win for both sides. Provided Microsoft lets Obsidian remain mostly free from typical AAA publisher trappings -- such as the forced inclusion of loot boxes and microtransactions in singleplayer games -- Obsidian could get the funding and support it needs to make bigger, better RPGs and other titles. Microsoft, on the other hand, could get some potentially-fantastic first party games to add to its line-up, which is remarkably thin at the moment.
Both Microsoft and Obsidian said they "do not comment" on rumors and speculation when asked to respond to these reports (though Obsidian threw in an amusing reference to Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" album), so it may be best to take this information with a grain of salt for now.
Regardless, this is certainly an interesting topic to discuss, and we'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Would you support a Microsoft-owned Obsidian, or would you prefer the studio to remain independent? Let us know in the comments.