Why Obsidian is going from RPGs to tanks with Armored Warfare

Obsidian Entertainment is widely known for its long line of RPGs, from its early days on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic to the more recent South Park: The Stick of Truth. So it was unusual to hear the studio announce at GDC that they were moving into the free-to-play tank-busting business with Armored Warfare. But according to Obsidian's chief executive, Feargus Urquhart, the transition isn't all that much of a stretch.

"A ton of making an RPG is of course making the world and story," Urquhart explains to CVG, "but then another huge part of it is the character systems - and the balancing - and the XP tables - and the abilities - and balancing all of these 400 spells and 12 character classes and 9 races. All that together. That's a big part of doing something like a modern armored vehicle MMO. So you kind of tie that together with our abilities and what people like to do and so, hey, why not? We have the opportunity, why not take it? And it's good to try new things."

Obsidian's MMO tank combat game will feature numerous tanks from 1950 all the way through the modern day, each with its own respective stats and abilities. With several customization options also in place, Armored Warfare appears to set itself in Obsidian's comfort zone of complex RPG-style systems. However, there's another reason the studio decided to go in this direction and that's to help create a self-sustaining revenue model that will help when publisher partnerships are not immediately available.

"Slots for an independent developer to work with a publisher are kind of few and far between," Urquhart added. "Sometimes when you're done with a game there just isn't that slot available. So even though you guys like each other a ton and everything went wonderfully, the publisher isn't prepared to sign up for another $30-$40 million game when you're done. I think that's caused a change to what we have to look at and how we do it. We have to look at lots of different opportunities like Kickstarter, like Armored Warfare, and potentially acquiring our own licenses."

Armored Warfare is set to begin its closed beta later this year. Players can sign up on the game's website.