Fallout: New Vegas was pretty well liked by critics and gamers, despite some of its signature open world jank. But it was just barely not well-liked enough to earn the team at Obsidian bonuses, according to creative director Chris Avellone.
Joystiq reports that Avellone told a fan that Obsidian's contract with Bethesda only guaranteed bonuses if the game earned an 85 or greater in its Metacritic score. The tweet didn't reveal a deadline for the score, which has probably long-since passed. The game currently stands at an 84 on PC and Xbox 360 (82 on PlayStation 3).
"[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't," Avellone said. The tweet has since been removed.
These types of deals are fairly common in the industry, though. Publishers rarely acknowledge the practice, but the Wall Street Journal reported that publishers like Activision and Take-Two were utilizing it years ago. Critics have commented that developers have approached them about reviews, since the practice makes their work indirectly responsible for another person's pay.
This comes just a day after the news broke that Obsidian laid off 20-30 staff members, including ones from the team working on South Park: The Game. A canceled project code-named "North Carolina" was reportedly set to be published by Microsoft for its next console, and was called "desperately needed" for the studio.