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Chris Avellone didn't leave Obsidian under the best of terms, but he upped his rhetoric a notch further recently, urging Microsoft to fire the studio's management if a deal is successfully concluded.
In message sent last night, Chris Avellone tweeted directly at Xbox executive Phil Spencer and referred to Obsidian's leadership as "chaff at the top." He also suggested they take a closer look at the Pillars of Eternity sales figures.
@XboxP3, if you ARE doing a deal with Obsidian Ent., I’d really, really look at Pillars of Eternity sales figures (which Fig has indirectly revealed this month, and tried to be cagey about it). Good devs there, terrible management – Hire the devs, fire the chaff at the top.— Chris Avellone (@ChrisAvellone) November 7, 2018
@XboxP3, if you ARE doing a deal with Obsidian Ent., I’d really, really look at Pillars of Eternity sales figures (which Fig has indirectly revealed this month, and tried to be cagey about it). Good devs there, terrible management – Hire the devs, fire the chaff at the top.
Asked for response to Avellone's comments, an Obsidian representative told USgamer, "Chris is an amazing designer and we wish him the best in all of his future endeavors."
Avellone departed Obsidian in 2015, where he was a writer for games including Fallout New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic 2. Before that Avellone helped write classics including Fallout 2 and Planescape Torment. Since his departure, Avellone has worked on games including Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Pathfinder: Kingmaker. He is also the narrative designer for Dying Light 2.
Avellone opened up about his departure from Obsidian earlier this year, and he was not sparing in his assessment of his former employer. In speaking with Techraptor, he directly called out Obsidian co-founder Feargus Urquhart, who Avellone says "de-ownered" him. Avellone spoke at length about what he perceives to be the issues at Obsidian
It went beyond the transparency in finances – the biggest shock came when the matter arose about paying back employees (not the owners, but our employees) who had given up their paychecks to keep Obsidian from going bankrupt. When we did start getting money in the bank again after this bleak period, however, the company’s spending began accelerating again. This made me uncomfortable, so at that time where our finances became healthy again, I brought up that since we had the means to do so, we should pay back the employees who gave up their paychecks to keep us going. My comment was met with silence by all the owners. I repeated the concern, but when I brought it up again, Feargus simply said, “we never promised we’d pay the employees back,” as if that excused things – but paying the employees back didn’t seem like a technicality to me, this was the right thing to do.
Avellone's comments come in the wake of reports that Microsoft is close to acquiring Obsidian. Microsoft has been on a buying spree of late, picking up Hellblade developer Ninja Theory among others, and adding cult favorite RPGs like Pillars of Eternity to its portfolio would seem to further improve its hardcore bonafides.
We'll be taking a closer look at Avellone's allegations about Pillars of Eternity's sales. In the meantime, if Avellone's bridges with Obsidian weren't burnt before, they sure are now.