Obsidian partners with Paradox for Pillars of Eternity

Developer explains decision.

UPDATE 11.45PM GMT: Obsidian boss Feargus Urquhart and Paradox boss Fredrik Wester talked about the deal at GDC moments ago. Contributor Paul Dean was there and sent me some choice remarks.

"For us it's very important to stress it's Obisdian's project and it remains in their creative control," said Wester. "We're just happy to work with Obsidian on this great project, so we're going to work on marketing and fulfillment. Someone has to send out those T-shirts, right?"

"We've gotten about $4.5m from people so far and we want everybody to totally understand that every dollar we get from everybody is going into the campaign," added Urquhart. "We're going to fulfill every one of [our] promises."

Pillars of Eternity carries an official "winter 2014" release date. Obsidian mentioned in the Pillars-Paradox FAQ that it was "confident" of having the game out this year, and Urquhart reiterated that on stage. "We're absolutely going to ship this year," he said. "We're really excited to have everybody play it."

ORIGINAL STORY 11.30PM GMT: Paradox Interactive has announced a deal with developer Obsidian Entertainment to distribute crowd-funded role-playing game Pillars of Eternity.

What?!

Yes, Obsidian knows this is a sensitive subject.

The deal employs Paradox to market and distribute the game, broadly speaking. It means Obsidian doesn't have to spend time or money thinking about a side of game development it doesn't want to deal with.

I spoke to Feargus Urquhart last week after I'd heard, from a bird, about the publishing deal. He was reluctant to confirm anything then but gave a speculative answer that revealed his studio's intentions.

"There's these things, these legitimate things, that publishers provide and we just don't ever want to do"

Feargus Urquhart

"Ultimately we're a developer, and I worked for a publisher for 12 years, and there are certain things I just don't want to have anything to do with, as it relates to distributing games. I don't want to have a warehouse, I don't want to build up a customer service department. We'll totally support our game online and in forums, but I don't want to have to figure out how to get something where people can call in and ask about the game.

"There's these things, these legitimate things, that publishers provide and we just don't ever want to do. If we have to do those things we have to put money into those things rather than into the game, and that's the big thing.

"Ultimately if we were going to have any arrangement on any of our games when we've Kickstarted it, it would be 'this brand is ours' and 'it's a brand that's been influenced by backers', and any publisher would have no say whatsoever about the content of that brand in any way, shape or form.

"The money that we've gotten to make the game goes to the game, and purposely there would be no monetary influence from a co-publishing or distribution partner to complicate that in any way, shape or form," he reiterated.

"We want this to be ours. Our games have gotten complicated in the past because of publisher intervention.

"We probably feel more strongly about it than the backers do. We've gotten a huge amount of experience with these things, and we want to hear people's opinion but we don't want to be strong-armed. Anything we would do with anybody: there would be no ability for them to strong-arm as it relates to the game."

Sensing the sensitivity to the announcement, Paradox and Obsidian released a FAQ.

It made clear that Obsidian still owns the Pillars of Eternity IP and was absolutely in charge of development. Crucially, "The partnership has no influence over our projected launch date," Obsidian wrote.

"We're confident that Pillars of Eternity will be wrapped up by year's end."

The game's budget hasn't suddenly risen so the game's scope remains the same - it's still entirely funded by its community. Paradox will pay for marketing and distribution.

"By handing off duties not related to development, Obsidian can focus on making the game that much better. We truly believe this is for the good of the game and, by extension, for the good of the community," the FAQ added.

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