Avowed was once going to be multiplayer to make it ‘a more interesting game to publishers’

Screenshot from Avowed trailer

The head of Outer Worlds developer Obsidian has revealed that early on, the upcoming Avowed was pegged as a multiplayer game.


In a documentary to celebrate Obsidian’s 20th anniversary, studio head Feargus Urquhart, has revealed that the upcoming single-player RPG Avowed was originally going to be a multiplayer game.

As spotted via IGN, Urquhart originally pushed for Avowed to be multiplayer. “I kept on that for a long time,” he said. “I know in the end it was the wrong decision to keep on pushing on it.”

Elsewhere in the documentary, Justin Britch, head of development at Obsidian, explains the reasoning behind the push for multiplayer. “When we were still independent and I was selling it, it was a more interesting game to publishers,” he said. “And when you’re asking for $50, $60, $70 million you’ve gotta have something interesting to talk about. Multiplayer made it interesting. It was this idea of, it’s almost like peanut butter and chocolate, putting it together, like ‘wow it must be interesting’.”

Obsidian is known for its expansive single-player games, such as Fallout: New Vegas and The Outer Worlds, so a multiplayer title would have been quite the departure for the studio. Switching to multiplayer can be a steep learning curve for a studio used to single-player narratives – as Arkane found with the release of Redfall.

But there’s a long history of studios pitching multiplayer games in the hope of gaining publishers’ interest – or being forced to add multiplayer by the publisher later on. Infamously, Yager was told to add a multiplayer mode to Spec Ops: The Line in 2012, even though the studio was very much against it.

It’s understandable why a multiplayer element can make a game more attractive for publishers: it can potentially increase engagement with the game and increase its tail considerably. But it can be a tall order, especially for a studio that has never dabbled in multiplayer before. BioWare’s Anthem disaster still looms fresh in the mind.

Given that, it’s probably for the best that Avowed will be strictly single player – although the bevy of live-service games announced this year, not least the four revealed during the PlayStation Showcase, indicate that publishers are still very much chasing those multiplayer dollars.

Read more: Live service gaming: are you sick of it yet?

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