Baldur’s Gate 3 Was Almost Made Four Years Ago

Four years ago, Obsidian Entertainment came incredibly close to securing a contract to work on Baldur’s Gate 3 after years of effort put into meetings and pitches, only to have it snatched away from them at the last minute.

Speaking with Kotaku, Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart told the sad story about how Atari promised Obsidian the world before pulling the rug out from under them. He said:

“We were talking to Atari, and we started talking, and oh my god this was like the Cherokee Trail of Tears pitch,” he said. “They asked in 2007 if we wanted to do Baldur’s Gate 3, and I’m like ‘Yes, if you guys are serious about it.’ They were like, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘If you’ll put a real budget behind it: it can’t be $10 million, it needs to be $20 million, $25 million. If you really want to do this, then you need to put a real budget behind it. You need to give a budget that BioWare would have to do a Mass Effect or whatever. It has to be a real budget.’”

A few months later, Atari gave Urquhart the green light.

“They were like ‘OK, we really wanna do this, we feel we can get funding, we feel this we feel that, so let’s start talking about it.’”

In April, Obsidian began putting together the pitch.

“That pitch, over the course of six months probably went through thirty revisions. I personally had probably spent 80, 100 hours—just me—on that one pitch, answering every question and asking everything and working on the budget.”

By the end of 2008, Atari and Obsidian had completed work on a contract, which was ready to be signed.

“And then we came back from break and they were like, ‘Okay, well this is going on, that’s going on—we’re real close. We should be able to sign it real soon and get it to you.’”

This is where the story turns sour. Atari started to stall.

“Then they said they wanted to come see us to look at things. And so they came into see us and they looked at things. And then about a week later they said you know we’re concerned that you can’t make the game. And then a week later all of Atari Europe was sold to Namco Bandai.”

Suddenly, the Atari producer that Obsidian had been working with was no longer at Atari.

“All this work got done. We negotiated a whole contract. Years worth of work, and it turned out they didn’t have the money.”

Can a Kickstarter campaign raise $20M for BG3?

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6 Comments on Baldur’s Gate 3 Was Almost Made Four Years Ago

psycros

On December 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Twenty million, for a Kickstarter? That’s ridiculous. You should be able to do a good single-player RPG for half that if your team is dedicated and the publisher isn’t getting a huge cut.

Luther

On December 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Yeah i agree with Psycros, it really comes down to how big and dedicated the team is, they could do a kick starter but there asking price shouldn’t be any where near 20m.

As gaming evolves we are starting to see it get cheaper and cheaper to produce amazing games, game engines are all over the place right now so you know longer need to build you’re own, they could pick up spark from Unknown Worlds which is an amazing engine and it would be super cheap for that company, so it comes down to mapping, story, programming, models, and finally texture, small team can hammer out some amazing content within a couple years with the funding from a kick starter.

In the end it depends on your drive and ambitions.

cheap engine
no expensive marketing required thanks to steam
no expensive distribution thanks to steam
the fans would spread the word and steam will distribute it.
its a great day to be a game developer

Luther

On December 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Also I don’t mean the spark engine is cheaply made im just saying it wouldn’t cost them vary much to license it, probably the best engine for your money.

jlkawaii

On December 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

the “kickstarter” thing is from the writer, a conclusion.
About the article, it’s sad (even if it wasn’t BG3) for obsidian. i can understand project eternity as one of the result…

Aedelric

On December 16, 2012 at 1:23 am

20 million was what the developer talking to the publisher, a perfectly normal ammount for a triple A title. Kickstarter was the writers own highly unrealistic thoughts.

Learn to read guys.

Shame Obsidian did not get a chance to make the game, it would have been amazing. I assume Namco Bandai now own the rights to Baldur’s Gate, lets hope they do something with the franchise.

Kevin

On December 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

If your going to make a modern game, especially with such a rich heritage, you want to go balls out. You want a game that not only has great gameplay mechanics, but looks nice and smooth to. BG looked great at the time. The backgrounds are still pretty lushly drawn. But let’s be honest and admit this is an aged product.

If an indie company puts out something that looks like Project Eternity or other indie games (let’s ignore for the moment how they play) we understand it. If one of the big companies puts that out, we wonder what the hell they spent all the money on.