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Microsoft's recent acquisition of inXile Entertainment came seemingly out of nowhere and caught pretty much everyone by surprise. And in order to clarify a few things about this deal, Eurogamer has reached out to the studio with some questions. This resulted in a fairly lengthy interview with inXile's boss Brian Fargo where he talks about what the acquisition means for his studio, inXile's PlayStation 4 commitments, inXile's upcoming projects, their relationship with Obsidian Entertainment, and more.
Here are a few sample questions:
What is the state of the studio - how big is inXile right now?
Brian Fargo: We're roughly 70 full-time people and probably another 15 contractors that we keep busy all the time, so we're a good size.
It's interesting if you think about 2012, when the crowdfunding revolution happened. You had myself and Double Fine and Obsidian shortly thereafter - and even Larian [Studios] for that matter. The budgets back then were $5m, $6m, so we'd raise $3m from Kickstarter, maybe do another couple of million in Early Access, throw in some more of our money, and you'd be pretty close to having your costs covered.
But since then, the category of what we all consider to be double-A has raised from $15m to $20m in that short period of time. The landscape has changed greatly since then.
How was the studio doing before the sale - were you in good health? Could you have continued to operate indefinitely without Microsoft's involvement? Because Bard's Tale 4 didn't set the world on fire, Torment: Tides of Numenera didn't seem to do well commercially, and Wasteland 3 isn't due until next year. Were you on the rocks?
Brian Fargo: Well listen, I'm a clever guy and I'm a survivor, so I always have a plan B, C and D at all times. There were a few companies wanting to give us big contracts recently so I always had that as an option, and some of the projects were really interesting. I would have had to continue to adjust my business model; right now we're primarily crowdfunding and publishing ourselves, so perhaps I would have had to mix it up a bit and continue with things like Wasteland 3 but maybe do a work-for-hire contract at the same time.
I found with inXile I've been constantly flexing both our size and our business strategy to survive, so I would have continued doing that.
Are you working on something now?
Brian Fargo: Well, we've had a project in development for some time we haven't announced that they're quite keen on, so we'll be looking at that and saying, 'Okay, what does this product look like now we're going to be given extra time and resources?' Evaluating how we could make it better.
Was that game part of the deal? Or was it more Microsoft acquiring inXile and then looking at what you could do?
Brian Fargo: They were certainly looking at what we had in development as an indicator of where we were going. They were interested in us because we are a self-sufficient company that can do good product without hand-holding which they could see, with a little extra resource, could really be pushed up a notch. That, as a general sense, was a motivator, and then in addition they were able to look at what was in the pipe and say, 'These guys are really doing some interesting, innovative things.'