Obsidian proposed making an Elder Scrolls game, but Bethesda said no: "I never got the impression Bethesda was happy with Fallout: New Vegas' reception"

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
(Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

What you need to know

  • Former Obsidian Entertainment writer and developer Chris Avellone has taken to X (formerly Twitter) to talk about a proposal he made to Bethesda while at the studio.
  • The proposal was for a spinoff The Elder Scrolls game in the style of Fallout: New Vegas that would "provide more adventures in the setting during the years before the next Bethesda release."
  • Avellone says the pitch "didn't gain much traction," mentioning he felt Bethesda wasn't happy with Fallout: New Vegas' reception. The game's very poor technical performance at launch was highlighted specifically.
  • Microsoft now has both Obsidian and Bethesda under its wing, so it's possible we could see a spinoff like this come in the future. Avowed, Obsidian's upcoming 2024 Xbox and PC RPG, also looks like it could be the studio's take on The Elder Scrolls.

According to recent comments made by former Obsidian Entertainment developer and writer Chris Avellone, Obsidian at one point proposed creating a spinoff game in The Elder Scrolls universe. This game would have been similar to Fallout: New Vegas, the studio's 2010 entry in the beloved post-apocalyptic RPG series that was designed to bridge the gap between Bethesda's Fallout 3 and Fallout 4.

"One of the Elder Scrolls proposals (which I pitched) was intended to serve the same function as [Fallout: New Vegas] did between [Fallout 3] and [Fallout 4], to provide more adventures in the setting during the years before the next Bethesda release," Avellone wrote in a thread on X (formerly Twitter). 

The suggestion was inspired by Call of Duty, of all things, with Avellone and Obsidian hoping to echo that franchise's release schedule. "I thought it couldn't hurt to try and push a similar system to what Treyarch/Activision had going with Call of Duty at the time (but hopefully less rushed)," he continued. "Bethesda could do a core release, then we'd release a [The Elder Scrolls] title (in same world or a divergent timeline/era) before the next big [Bethesda] push. Probably less relevant now that Elder Scrolls Online is going, but at the time, it seemed to be something that could benefit both studios."

Fallout: New Vegas is often considered the best Fallout now, but when it released, it was nearly unplayable. (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

It wasn't meant to be, however. It's hard to imagine it now that Fallout: New Vegas is widely considered to be the best 3D Fallout title, but back when it came out, it had a quite a rough reputation for being unacceptably buggy and unstable — and Avellone says that's likely part of why Bethesda turned Obsidian's proposal down.

"Not surprisingly, [the proposal] didn't gain much traction — I never got the impression [Bethesda] was happy with [Fallout: New Vegas'] reception (good and bad)," he said. Then, responding to a commenter who brought up the game's state at release: "That was one of the bad points, yes. It had numerous issues at launch that we could have worked harder to resolve."

Interestingly, Avellone says Obsidian already had some concepts in mind when the developer approached Bethesda, including one that might've had players returning to a very different version of Skyrim. "If [Bethesda] didn't want us messing with their core world, one was a spinoff where you adventured in an alternate [The Elder Scrolls] world the last hero had failed to save in the last round of Elder Scroll titles," he noted.

I love The Elder Scrolls universe and Obsidian is one of my all-time favorite game developers, so it's a huge bummer this game never got off the ground — roaming around a dragon-controlled Skyrim after the Dragonborn got themselves launched by the Giant Space Program sounds awesome. However, now that Microsoft has acquired both Bethesda and Obsidian for Xbox, it's entirely possible that the latter will get to make New Vegas-style spinoffs again for both The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. By the Nine, I hope so.

It's worth mentioning that Avowed, Obsidian's upcoming action RPG slated to release at some point in 2024 on Xbox Series X|S and PC, very much looks like it could be the developer's take on an Elder Scrolls game. That's definitely the vibe I get from its combat-focused official gameplay trailer, though we haven't learned much of anything about the game's other RPG systems yet. As an Xbox console exclusive, Avowed will launch on Xbox Game Pass, which you can also play Fallout: New Vegas through.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.