Pentiment Wouldn't Exist If Not For Game Pass, Director Confirms

Nov 16, 2022 · 11


Josh Sawyer, Game Director for the recently released narrative mystery game, Pentiment, confirmed in the most recent episode of the Waypoint Radio podcast, that the title would likely have never even been made if not for the existence of Xbox's Game Pass service. "I never would have proposed making Pentiment without Game Pass," he put plainly. "Like I literally just wouldn't have done it. I just don't think it would have been possible."

The reason for this is that he considered the idea a bit too niche and unusual for the traditional publishing pipeline. Though he'd had the general idea for a game like Pentiment for many years, it was after Xbox's 2018 purchase of Obsidian Entertainment, the development studio, that he was motivated to pitch it.

Sawyer considered the title "was well suited for Game Pass," due to its more niche qualities. Undoubtedly, Pentiment is not your traditional blockbuster action title that will appeal to every gamer. It's a very narrative-driven experience; most of what you do is control the character's dialogue choices and decisions.

He further explained that, in AAA development environments, making small games for a small profit margin usually isn't very encouraged. Even if Sawyer's boss over at Obsidian would have supported the project prior to the Xbox days, "it would have been incredibly difficult to get a publisher to pick it up," so he wouldn't have even bothered. Under the Xbox umbrella, however, and with Game Pass on the table, Sawyer believed that a title like Pentiment was much more feasible.

According to him, purely making big-budget titles that have the potential to rake in much more income is "not really the point in this environment, that's not why things exist in this ecosystem." Xbox does benefit from a constant source of new game output to satisfy Game Pass subscribers, so, having cheaper-to-produce games adding value to the service would work well with the company's business model.

Sawyer also shared some insight into the game's initial development stages. Pentiment came to be, partly, because Sawyer "kinda just bullied [his] boss into it." He promised that the team would be small and that he'd keep the scope very focused so as to not take many resources away from Obsidian's bigger projects, such as its upcoming medieval fantasy title Avowed. Xbox was only vaguely aware of Pentiment's existence until Sawyer had a vertical slice to share, after which the team showed it to Xbox executives, who responded positively.

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