Pillars Of Eternity Dev Says Deadfire Sales Were Low, Sequel Might Not Happen

The studio says it would need to "re-examine the entire format of the game" if a sequel is to be made.

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Will there be a Pillars of Eternity III? That's the question someone put to Obsidian design director Josh Sawyer recently, and his response doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.

Writing on his Tumblr, Sawyer said the "relatively low" sales of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire suggest that if Obsidian were to develop a third game, the studio would have to "re-examine the entire format of the game." He added that whether or not a third mainline game happens is not up to him.

Despite solid reviews and strong pre-orders, Deadfire sold worse than the first game, Sawyer added. That leaves Obsidian scratching its head for answers.

"Is it because the first game satisfied the existing need and the audience just wasn't interested in the second? Is it because awareness was lower for the sequel? Is it because despite the strong reviews and the strong sales for the first game, people didn't 'really' like it? Maybe it's a combination of all of these things," Sawyer said.

Sawyer went on to say that because Obsidian doesn't fully understand why Deadfire failed to sell at a better level, that makes it hard to move forward with the series. Had the game been a critical failure, then the studio could know that perhaps more time spent in development would be needed for the next game. But Deadfire reviewed well with critics; the game has an 88 on Metacritic compared to an 89 for the original game.

Some have said Pillars of Eternity could have benefited from abandoning the real-time with pause (RTwP) battle mechanics, but Sawyer said this did not hurt sales.

"I'm sure some of the people reading this think they know precisely why Deadfire sold worse than Pillars 1. I don't have that confidence, which is one of several reasons why I am leery about trying to direct a sequel," Sawyer said. "I couldn't give our (Obsidian's) audience the game that they wanted and without understanding where I went wrong, I would be guessing at what the problems are and how to remedy them."

Replies flooded in after Sawyer posted this blog post, and here are some other takeaways that he shared on Twitter:

  • Pre-sales for Deadfire were 3X better than the first Pillars, but sales on launch day and after were "quite low" compared to the first game (source)
  • Deadfire sold better than Obsidian's 2016 game Tyranny but worse than Pillars of Eternity 1 (source)
  • Sawyer's big takeaway on why Deadfire sold worse than the first game? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (source)

While Deadfire might not have been a top-seller, Obsidian's latest game, The Outer Worlds, was a critical and a commercial success. Sawyer did not have much involvement in that game, however.

Microsoft recently acquired Obsidian, and the Xbox-maker reportedly has plans to turn The Outer Worlds into a franchise. As Sawyer alluded to here, there is no word on if the Pillars of Eternity franchise will continue going forward.

Deadfire is supposed to launch on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch sometime in 2019 through a partnership with Grip Digital. However, no release date has been announced yet.

Metacritic and GameSpot share a parent company in CBS.

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