Obsidian denied bonus over New Vegas Metacritic score - Studio Head

Company co-founder says studio received no royalties from open-world RPG hit, missed average review score bonus payment by one point.

Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment would have collected an unspecified bonus if the 2010 role-playing game scored an 85 on aggregate review site Metacritic, according to cofounder Chris Avellone. It scored an 84.

Obsidian missed a bonus by one Metacritic point, according to Avellone.

"[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't," Avellone wrote on Twitter.

While the Xbox 360 and PC versions of Fallout: New Vegas received an 84 Metacritic score, the PlayStation 3 scored an 82.

Avellone's statement was in response to a user suggesting that Fallout: New Vegas was a moneymaker for the developer. A Bethesda representative declined comment.

This news comes just a day after reports that as many as 30 Obsidian staffers had been let go from teams working on a cancelled mystery next-generation project and the South Park role-playing game.

Kotaku reports that the next-gen project--codenamed "North Carolina"--was to be published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 successor. A source told the site the team had been working on the mystery project for seven months and that Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart "choked up" when addressing the company about the cancellation of the project.

Joystiq's source suggested that "North Carolina" was "desperately needed" for the continued survival of the studio.

Metacritic and GameSpot are both owned by CBS Interactive.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

195 comments
robitussin217
robitussin217

Well, I hope they got a bonus with all that DLC I bought for FNV...

Torathin
Torathin

Something is missing in this article. Missed a bonus from who? Who made 85 the threshold?

ResponsibleGame
ResponsibleGame

1 Metacritic point ? Is that all it takes to ensure that a few people won't be able to put food on their tables ? My respect for Metacritic , GameSpot and the whole reviewing system at large has officially diminished .

DredWulf
DredWulf

So obsidian is next on the chopping block...that sucks.

Mawy_Golomb
Mawy_Golomb

Just for being 1 point away from a Metacritic score, Obsidian gets its bonus denied. Wow. That seems pretty ridiculous to me.

another_drew
another_drew

@raydawg2000 and you are speaking as though this an industry of quantity not quality. This is not a manufacturing industry, it's an industry that has fought to establish itself as artistic for years. So no, I cannot agree that they should get more money for making something worthwhile. You seem like you may be to young to remember the days when all games were not the same but strove to be different and innovative. Nowadays we live in a world where one company strives to copy the success of another and offers nothing really new. Not to mention, bonuses are usually awarded based upon sales, not opinion of quality. Your argument is invalid.

fadersdream
fadersdream

You lost me at "South Park Role-Playing game"

bennie12
bennie12

Obsidian does not cut corners. They do the best with what they get. I admit Alpha Protocol was a disappointment, but it was OK. Knights Of The Old Republic II is a masterpiece, I will respect them forever because of that game, which was made under tough circumstances because of LucasArts. When New Vegas came out, it was the rage, now it is popular to say it sucks. It is of course a good game.

Psycold
Psycold

@BurningChrome Not to mention how incredibly ugly New Vegas looked in comparison to the much older Fallout 3.

BurningChrome
BurningChrome

Let's see 1. A world half the size of FO3. Then 40% of that world inaccessible mountains. 2. Getting funneled into choke points (Cazador, Deathclaw and Super Mutants) 3. Game freezing issues 4. NPC's disappearing (Isaac, Dan Hostetler so far are m.i.a.) 5. V.A.T.S. bugs galore i.e hitting but no damage, missing on a 95% chance 3 TIMES IN A ROW (???), getting stuck in V.A.T.S. mode while a dog slowly kills you. 6. Bodies disappearing into the ground. 7. weird graphical glitches GALORE. And these are just off the top of my head. Obsidian is lucky to have gotten paid at all! I seriously hope they are NOT involved with Fallout 4, and I'm an old Fallout vet. I even enjoyed Fallout Tactics!

Gtacodbf
Gtacodbf

sometimes you gotta live mas...

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

Kind of sounds like some bullcrap to me. I think sites like Metacritic REALLY hurt devs when it comes to things like this. I mean come on, many of the sites on there could be some low rent website with an air of legitimacy while other more major sites like EGM, gamespot, and IGN have more pull with us anyway yet they're counted no higher than some of these crappier sites. Either way, a single point off. That's major bullcrap. And the fact that publishers are deciding to not continue a series if their metacritic score isn't amazing is nonsense. TOTAL GARBAGE.

asmodeus_z
asmodeus_z

Vegas is definitely more buggy than Fallout 3. But I preferred it as there's more 'colour' and interaction with NPCs.

mos2000
mos2000

I agree in general that bonuses should be based on sales instead of critic scores. However, this game was going to generate a lot of money because of the cult following Fallout created. Even with that, Obs. managed to take a highly anticipated sequel and wreck it. The game was pretty good, until you got to the Vegas strip. There it takes a turn towards poop-ville. I think a combo of scores and sales would have made it look better for Bethesda "politically". Nonetheless Obsidian deserved no bonus for the hatchet job they did half-way through the game

constantterror
constantterror

Fallout 3 was better by far the people saying Vegas is better are prbly the people that played Vegas first then went and played fallout 3 and couldn't do their stupid cod sight thing and hate it cause of that.

polymetalalloy1
polymetalalloy1

I played Fallout New Vegas exhaustively, and despite all its charms it was a flawed and wasted opportunity by Obsidian. They made no fixes to the bugs in the Fallout 3 engine, in fact they made bugs and glitches of their own instead to make the whole experience more unsatisfying. Fallout 3 is one of my favourite games of all time and although I died a little inside when my game crashed on the Tenpenny Tower suite bug, I just started another game because it was that atmospheric. When Fallout New Vegas casinos started confiscating all my hard-earned and rare weapons and not giving them back I was just plain pissed. Fact is New Vegas should have been better and Obsidian are a shoddy studio.

Pyrosa
Pyrosa

Good. That many bugs, terrible load-times, and "back-and-forth-across-long-load-times" quests absolutely EARNED them the $0 bonus.

kohle36
kohle36

@lazycomplife The second issue is that you're referring to AAA games only. These are the same games that, while sometimes fun and all, are also often the ones most heavily criticized for being derivative, stale, and anti-consumer in their pricing models (and often rightfully so). Personally, I wouldn't really care if the AAA industry collapsed tomorrow, because I've seen almost a decade now of what 10 million dollars gets you, and it's usually just a really nice looking HD package that plays identical to the 36 titles before it. Graphics over gameplay, style over substance. Little innovation, little risk, big profits. Meh. But I get not everyone feels that way, which is why I pointed out earlier that there are other options to being beheld to publishers that increasingly don't actually do anything that isn't highly replaceable. Games have been funded by gamers before, and while we're not at a state of organization right now to instantly fund the entire industry, I don't think that there is any sort of inevitable necessity to publishing companies in the future. That is, unless you're content to parrot how much we need them and should allow them do and charge what they will. In that case, go enjoy CoD, I'm going to go play minecraft.

kohle36
kohle36

@lazycomplife There's really two issues here. First, is that IP is structured in such a way as to benefit publishers, not developers (usually). It's publishers that whine about not making enough, and if comments sections here are any indication, a lot of gamers can't tell the difference between someone who actually develops games (and gets paid a one time sum), and a publisher who then sits on the IP for all eternity, milking it for all it's worth. This is exactly how scenarios like the one above unfold. Sure, publishers offer up the cash, but that's all they do. Important here is that the publisher didn't actually create anything, and so a source of funding can literally come from anywhere else. That was my original point: digital connectivity has basically made publishers obsolete from a distribution standpoint, but also could easily from a funding standpoint. How many pre-orders went down for AC3 after a single teaser trailer? If gamers are so willing to throw money at the most vague of ideas anyway, why not just go one step further and cut out the middle man?

P90E21
P90E21

So it has a few bugs that yes can break the game but i found ways around the most of them and the game in all came out great. I think they got screwed over and sounds like Bethesda did pay GS enough for the score lol. *coughs* Kain and lynch*

RobertBowen
RobertBowen

Bonuses should be tied purely to sales, not erroneous scores, especially where scores can be bought or 'influenced' by various means. After all, a publisher can really abuse that system, either by not doing a great job with Q&A, or by not offering 'incentives' to game review sites, and effectively force a lower score for a game so they don't have to fork out extra cash. Completely shady business practices, if you ask me.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am sorry to hear that Obsidian missed the bonus cutoff; I like FO: NV. That said, I hope this news doesn't lead to any excessive sympathy and compromise the integrity of game review process. Similarly stringent performance-based financial incentives have led to a "perfect score-only positive feedback" mentality that made Ebay's detailed feedback score system nearly useless. For all intends and purposes, game reviews should follow a curve-based scoring system, and 84 is very good.

Olgark
Olgark

I liked Obsidian they have had some nice games. Yeh KOTOR 2 was a bit of a let down, but I think that was in part to the publishers pushing them to release. But I still enjoyed the game. As for Fallout New Vegas I found no bugs. I tend to watch trailers, read the game lore and if I find it intresting I will buy it no matter who says what in a review. I can then make my own mind up, same goes with films and books. In the end a review is not an impartial piece, it is tainted by the person who is doing the review and how they view the game. I have played some games that got really good reviews yet I hated them. Syndicate and Dragon Age 2 come to mind right at this moment, but there are more.

InnerSenses
InnerSenses

@famekiller "For starters if you only buy games based on someone else's review (ie: opinion) then you are basically a sheep.Go eat some grass. I've lost count of the cool games i picked up that were given a 3 or 4 out of 10." I depend on other people's reviews before buying games (especially if there is no demo) because I can't afford to take a chance on a game that I know little or nothing about. I can only afford a full game purchase every 2-3 months, so it needs to be good, with plenty of play time. I'm sure there are plenty of people in my position too, so I guess that's why review scores are so important to these publishers. Believe me, if I had the money and the time, I would probably take more chances on games. I remember a few years ago, I took a chance on the Fellowship of the Ring on PS2 even though it had a really bad score on OPS2, but I LOVED it! :D

Foreman22
Foreman22

Not a big surprise. Obsidian has a history of dropping the ball. KOTOR/2 and Fallout/NV are two great examples. Not being able to play after the main story line ended hurt the game greatly IMO. Also the idea to place a post apoc game in a natural waste land was extremely short sighted. You reap what you have sowed. And obsidian is doing just that.

69ingChimpmunks
69ingChimpmunks

Its their own fault. I loved playing NV but the countless bugs, glitches, and lag that the game has completely ruins it for me. They should have attempted to fix the problems well before the game's launch and they didnt.

Fire_Wa11
Fire_Wa11

I REALLY like Obsidian. They work around smaller budgets with their interesting characters and immersive environments. I can wander around the Mojave for HOURS in Fallout New Vegas. Shooting people in the back as Atton and wrist-rocketing people as Mira in Kotor 2 was fun, too. I wish Obisidian all the best and look forward to playing their titles in the future.

SteveTwo
SteveTwo

I thought New Vegas was great! It's a pity they were denied over such a small margin. Even if the studio goes under, there are alot of new groups and indie projects they will hopefully find homes with.

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

What a pity, they only had to fix a bunch more of the countless bugs. New Vegas is a great game, probably a 10/10 for me, but not with all the bugs and lag.

WiredDreemz
WiredDreemz

It's really sad to see such a studio in such a predicament! I also think it should have been based on sales figures rather than some dumb-ass score! It's not the score that creates income, although it contributes to it, it's the actual purchase of the item!

ppettie
ppettie

It sucks that a bonus was subject to a critic's rating rather than sales figures. But when I was in high school, an 84 and 85 meant a difference between a C and a B respectively. I enjoyed New Vegas, although a bug caused me to restart my entire game once (before any patches were released).

saint311
saint311

Metacritic truly is the greatest entity of all time. Did you know a C+ rating = 58 rating on Metacritic? Genius...

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Remember, this contract was made before people started really spamming the Metacritic site.

camichan
camichan

In one sense it truly is a shame, it's a great game and I love Bethesda. Despite a truly remarkable storyline, I must admit that I personally rated this game lower due to the excessive system crashes on PS3 (this was even after the major patches). It was simply the worst experience I have ever had with load times and system hangs, far more than Fallout 3. Maybe the PS3 has some part in it, but the buck has to stop somewhere. New Vegas needs work. Skyrim had much better performance.

lazycomplife
lazycomplife

@kohle36 It usually takes at least $10 million to make a AAA video game. Publishers are the source of that huge sum of money. Without publishers, there's no way someone with a great game could come up with the money to give their game the polish it deserves.

Masenkoe
Masenkoe

New Vegas is a great game. This makes me sad.

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

...and yet Silicon Knights somehow manages to exist.

Strydarr
Strydarr

@Iridescent406 My problems with it were the setting. The game's main attraction was Vegas, which is very bright and colorful, and yet the whole game was brownish orange. The story was pretty bad, sidequests included. My gamer ocd also did not like the faction system which made me choose sides for certain quests. Of course the bugs and glitches. Gameplay was still good just like Fallout 3. But considering I loved all of Fallout 3, DLC included, New Vegas was a letdown to me. Not a BAD game. Just Mediocre.

kohle36
kohle36

That's it. The next publisher who whines about used games sales and money being withheld from developers I'm going to take a crap in their cheerios. And punch them in the face. Which I will then face-dunk into the cheerios. IP law is beyond ridiculous, publishers are obsolete in a world of digital distribution, and all they can do is whine and moan about how hard done by they are, all the while cashing in 'intellectual properties' some other poor sod was paid a pittance to create.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

haters gonna hate. i'm sure plenty of low scores were given by gamers who hadn't even played the game. (lets just say i wouldn't bet MY paycheck on it)

RadPro
RadPro

I've played close to 200 hours, great game (Much better than Fallout 3). It's a shame for Obsidian.

Strydarr
Strydarr

It was such a mediocre game. I'm surprised it scored that high even.

inaka_rob
inaka_rob

thats too bad. It is the only Obsidan game that I have anything positive to say. I have played everygame they made games like Alapa Protocol are laughpable. like made by a highschools level of game design. KOTAR2 did too little after the mind blowing KOTAR1. Just could not get into Never Winternights2... I dont know boring i guess. but some people loved it. I am playing the Fallout New Vegas colletion so it the version after the 5000 million patches and fixes have come out. THIS version would probably get a 90 on meta critic, even though with all the patches I still run into more bugs and glitches than Fall Out 3 ever had.

FacesMan
FacesMan

@Lordcrabfood Oh I agree.

famekiller
famekiller

@ maxwell97 Let me guess... a CEO? I'm not disputing that they never got paid. Who works for nothing? i merely said that it's the creatives that get shafted and they did. The scabs at Bethesda wouldn't cough up because of 1 lousy point. No Bonus = Shafted. I'll bet you my copy of Barbie Fashion Show that the CEO's get paid more than the creative team does. Oh, and your comment about funding their own projects... are you kidding? How many game programmers have a spare $10 Million laying around. Come back to Earth.

xdude85
xdude85

That's like an actor not being given a commission because the movie he stared in didn't get four stars.