We know Obsidian Entertainment’s as an upcoming fantasy-fiction single-player RPG set in the Pillars of Eternity Universe, but it a multiplayer adventure as well. Things can change quick in the large-scale game industry, especially where executives are involved. Apparently, as Obsidian was first preparing Avowed, studio head Feargus Urquhart pushed for a multiplayer feature in the game. The team abandoned the idea after it realized that might be outside its expertise and make it difficult to focus on what it does best.
This info comes from Obsidian’s 20th Anniversary Documentary video, as spotted by GamesRadar+. There, the team discusses a number of retrospective thoughts on Obsidian’s history, one of which Urquhart considers one of his less successful decisions regarding Avowed.
“One of the things where I really pushed was that Avowed was going to be multiplayer, and I kept on that for a long time, and [I know] in the end it was the wrong decision to keep on pushing on it,” Urquhart shared.
The reasoning for this is one we’ve often heard in AAA gaming. There was an often-shared sentiment that for a large-scale game to be more appealing to publishers, it should have multiplayer elements.
“When you're asking for 50, 60, 70, 80 million you've got to have something interesting to talk about," explained Urquhart, "and multiplayer made it interesting.”
The issue is that Obsidian was specialized in single-player games and attempting to design multiplayer features created problems Obsidian didn’t feel equipped to deal with, as shared by head of development Justin Britch.
“After working on it for a little bit we realized that we weren't focused on the things that we're best at," said Britch. "and so we made a pivot on the game basically, to refocus really and make sure that it was, at the end of the day, an Obsidian game and not something different.”
It will remain to be seen if the shift pays off. Currently Avowed is set for a 2024 release window, but the gameplay shown during Xbox Games Showcase 2023 continued to make it look promising. At the very least, it looks like Obsidian got the permission it needed to work on Avowed the way it does best.