InXile CEO: ‘In order for us to survive we’ve got to do good games’

InXile CEO Brian Fargo has said Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio has given the team "a safe harbour" to spend "as much time as possible working on our games and honing our craft".

While we had heard rumours that Microsoft was interested in acquiring RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment, the acquisition of independent studio InXile earlier this month came as something of a surprise.

"My goal is to always get my company in a safe harbour so we can spend as much time as possible working on our games and honing our craft," Fargo told Eurogamer. "That can come if you sell 2 million units – that’s a great way to get there which everyone hopes for. Or, a deal like this. But at the end of the day that’s all I ever cared about."

Fargo then detailed the changing landscape for indie and "AA" developers and reflected on the impact of crowdfunding, confirming that "on a practical level", inXile "probably won’t be crowdfunding any more".

"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.

"We’ve always known as a small developer what our goals are, but we don’t have unlimited money – and I’m not talking about going crazy, ramping up to these huge triple-A projects, that’s not what we’re trying to do," Fargo added. "But we want to step it up a bit because there’s this uncanny valley between the double-A and the triple-A. We could come out with a game like Bard’s Tale [4] and we could say, ‘Hey, it’s a 35-person team and it’s only $35,’ but the people playing it are like, ‘Nope. I’m just looking at The Witcher 3 and I don’t really care.’ We don’t get to explain; we just need to close the gap."

Fargo intimated the studio currently employees 70 full-time staff, as well as roughly 15 regular contractors. The takeover from Microsoft now enables the company to consider boosting its staffing headcount by as much as 30 per cent, and temporarily shelves Fargo’s plans to retire.

"I tell you what hasn’t changed: in order for us to survive we’ve got to do good games. Either the public is going to shut you down by not buying your product or, theoretically, the company that buys you is going to shut you down if you don’t do good products. But now I have more tools at my disposal to prevent that from happening than ever before. The deck is more stacked in our favour than it ever has been."

Microsoft latest acquisitions come on the back of others Microsoft publicised at E3 this year when it added no less than five new studios – Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, and Compulsion Games – to its first-party lineup, as well as establishing new studio, The Initiative.

"We’re increasing our investment in our existing franchises you already love, and amplifying our investment into new worlds," Xbox’s Phil Spencer said at the time. "We commit and harness our full resources of Microsoft to develop the future of play […] We know exclusive games from Microsoft studios are originally what turned so many of us into Xbox fans."

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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