Versus Evil: Obsidian is ‘one of the top-tier RPG developers. Plain and simple’

We have a chat with Steve Escalante, general manager at Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire publisher Versus Evil, about working with Obsidian, crowdfunding and his sales expectations for the title
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Versus Evil's general manager Steve Escalante

Versus Evil's general manager Steve Escalante

In the five years since its inception, Versus Evil has published a dozen indie titles, with Anti Hero, Let Them Come and Guild of Dungeoneering being its most recent successes. And of course there’s Stoic’s The Banner Saga, one of Kickstarter’s early success stories.

However, with Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, Versus Evil seems to be upping its game.

“Before I started Versus Evil, I was at Bethesda for five years. We’ve all worked on big triple-A projects,” general manager Steve Escalante tells MCV. “So to dive into something like Pillars of Eternity really expands the knowledge that we’ve always had.

“We are starting to focus on more genres that make sense for us as a publisher, that complement the experiences that I’ve had in my 18 years in this business. And RPG as a genre happens to be one of them.”

Picking up this specific project was a no-brainer for Versus Evil, Escalante explains: “First and foremost, it’s Obsidian and they are one of the top-tier RPG developers. Plain and simple. Having been a fan of RPGs for most of my life, it was a bit of a geek-out phase for myself going ‘Wow, this would be really amazing if we can work with the Obsidian teams’.”

He continues: “If you’re a fan of RPGs, [Deadfire] is the one you need to play. Being able to dive into a big RPG again is what I’m the most excited about but the setting and everything that they’ve done is just fantastic. The systems, the stories and the dynamic that they bring with them are just awesome.”

With the title being crowdfunded, it slightly changes what is expected from the publisher. However, Versus Evil is no stranger to this situation.

“We’ve been dealing with crowdfunded titles, The Banner Saga being one of them, so we’re very familiar with the process,” Escalante says. “We need to go into the deal understanding that there are a bunch of promises that have been made to consumers. So really it just affects your initial planning, if nothing else. Crowdfunding campaigns are really interesting because they help build the brand and the excitement.”

Games like Pillars of Eternity benefit from a very keen and vocal community, which helps to spread the word about the sequel. As a result, Escalante has high expectations for Deadfire.

“Putting it plainly we hope and expect that we can meet or exceed the launch of Pillars,” he says. “Our goal is to build on the brand. We hope to not only bring in our former fans, but build on that and expand the audience.”

This echoes perfectly what Obdisian’s design director Josh Sawyer told us as well: Deadfire has the potential to outsell its predecessor.

“We’d love for it to do even better than Pillars and I think it can,” Sawyer says. “I’m hopeful that if we are really delivering for our fans and working well with the publishing partner, that it can outperform [Pillars] in every way.”

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is out on April 3rd. If you want to learn more, you can also read our interview with Obsidian's producer Josh Sawyer.