X018 came with great news for single-player gamers: Microsoft has purchased more single player focused studios.

Earlier this year, the studio-starved software titan announced that five new studios would be joining its ranks. Now, Microsoft has announced two exciting new acquisitions: inXile Entertainment and Obsidian Entertainment.

For those unenlightened by both studios, what this essentially means for Xbox fans is even more promising single-player content.

Obsidian Entertainment, who was rumoured to be acquired by Microsoft last month, is legendary for its RPG expertise. The studio was made infamous with games such as Fallout: New Vegas, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II, and Pillars of Eternity, with much of its output being multiplatform. Now, the studio’s expertise and imagination will be locked to Microsoft, filling that RPG gap on its console.

inXile Entertainment was a surprise purchase. That studio, too, has massive RPG pedigree, with its debut game, The Bard’s Tale, being a modest success. Since then, the developer has gone on to release Wasteland 2, an isometric epic, as well as Torment: Tides of Penumbra, a spiritual successor to Planescape Torment, along with a litany of other releases. Most importantly, the studio is currently developing Wasteland 3, which is set to release on PlayStation 4, too.

Matt Booty, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, released a statement following the news, and sounded understandably excited at the acquisitions:

“While they do share a common heritage, the two creative teams at Obsidian and inXile are very different. They will continue to operate autonomously with their unique talents, IP and expertise. As part of Microsoft Studios, Obsidian and inXile will have the support and freedom to fully realize their creative ambitions on both existing franchises and new RPG projects.”

Of course, one major addition both studios will enjoy with Microsoft is extra funds. Reportedly, Obsidian Entertainment’s last game, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, sold well under expectations and, financially-speaking, independent life appeared to be piling on the financial strain. With Microsoft, despite its patchy record, the studio will hopefully find more stability, resources, and support to complete its future games.

The same can be said of inXile, although it hasn’t shared the same financial woes as Obsidian. inXile was a surprise buy, but a smart one. The studio has loads of potential and all it needs is some trust and funding to reach its goals. The studio’s adaptability and capability to succeed under pressure was proved by its work on Wasteland 2, which had an enormous amount of crowdfunded fan hype.

Notably, inXile represents evidence that Microsoft has done some self-realisation and analysis. The Xbox is an RPG wasteland, which is a major genre in the single-player market. By identifying two RPG studios, one of high caliber and one with a lot of room to grow.

Mending the RPG gap between itself and its competitors, Microsoft has shown that these were not random buys, but calculated acquisitions by the company.

Xbox has been hampered by its lack of first-party games this generation and has, perhaps unconsciously, segregated itself from the single-player market. Whilst the Xbox One X could boast better processing power and graphical output, the main appeal in any console is the games. Single player games especially were left out in the cold by Microsoft in recent years following less than stellar sales for Ryse, Sunset Overdrive, and Quantum Break, but these acquisitions hint at an exciting future.

With Microsoft’s recent acquisitions, there’s bound to be exciting competition between all three of the major console providers within the next generation.

At last year’s E3, OnlySP’s Damien Lawardorn wrote that “E3 2018 saw Microsoft making its strongest pitch to date: [offering] value to those who prefer to play their games alone.” At X018, the Microsoft did this once again, which hopefully will reignite the company’s credentials in single-player gaming.

Between Ninja Theory, Compulsion, inXile, Obsidian and Playground Games, who are presumably working on the next Fable, there’s a lot to be excited about over the next few years. Whether or not the games will be any good remains to be seen, but at least Microsoft is finally making the effort.

What do you make of Microsoft’s purchases? Can you see them going over well? Can you trust the company given its previous treatment of first-party studios?

For more on the world of single-player, be sure to follow OnlySP on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube. 

Ben Newman

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