Cancelations on videogames is a common thing nowadays, with titles getting canceled due to various reasons. Obsidian, the studio behind the smashing Fallout: New Vegas was reportedly working on an exclusive title, Stormlands for Xbox One since 2011 but the project was canceled by Microsoft because of the ambitions the company had for the consoles titles.
Stormlands, was supposedly an RPG title like Witcher but had some multiplayer elements giving it the title “the million man raid” by the developer team. The game would have big mob appearances, like bosses that would be seen by all players, giving them the chance to fight in 40-man raids. The footage of the raid would be recorded individually for each player, combining his fight in an edited video just as we see on Overwatch with the highlight feature.
The problem appeared when Stormlands hit the eye of Microsoft who wanted to make it a big exclusive for it’s new console Xbox One when it hit the market. Obsidian had the idea since 2006 and was sitting on it and new that if it was created in partnership with Microsoft it would be a huge new IP for the company. Microsoft had big plans for Stormlands (then codenamed North Carolina), even considering a sequel.
When Obsidian took the idea to Microsoft they had no expectations and their big plan was based solely on a demo for Xbox 360 and a Powerpoint presentation. As Obsidian co-owner and CEO, Feargus Urquhart told Eurogamer:
“We had a demo on the Xbox 360 and they asked us a lot of questions,” says Urquhart, “and then I was really surprised because we went downstairs and we were waiting for a taxi and Noah [Musler, Microsoft Game Studios biz dev] came down and said, ‘I don’t want to get your hopes up but I think we’re looking good.”
He then stated that Microsoft wanted Stormlands to be even bigger which led to more people getting involved in its development, in his mind that caused problems to the team’s communication, that wasn’t the reason for its cancelation though. Microsoft was the one giving the call, cancelling the IP and giving Obsidian the chance to start working on something new.
As Urquhart states, the months after Stormlands’ cancelation was referred to as Summer of Proposals, where the team would give out ideas to publishers. Stormlands was not out of the picture yet. Obsidian reached out to many publishers trying to revive it. Urquhart says:
“We pitched Ubisoft, we pitched 2K, we pitched everybody. A lot of people we’d pitched Stormlands to and it was a challenge to re-pitch a game that had now been cancelled. It makes sense – why pick up a game that another publisher cancelled?”
Stormlands was finally pitched to Paradox in 2014, making the all known Tyranny which just got its first expansion. So we may not been able to see the game in all its glory but the fact that the developer team never gave up on it and gave such a fight to make it come true makes it a studio worth giving credit to.
Obsidian, which is 175-man studio is currently working on some huge projects including an expansion for it’s latest big title Tyranny, a sequel for Pillars of Eternity, a new card game similar to Pathfinder and a still hidden project which will be revealed later this week as the developers teased.