Apart from the recent release of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, the last we saw of the classic PC franchise was in 2004. But a third Baldur’s Gate was at one point to begin production at Obsidian Entertainment–until it all fell apart.
Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart, speaking in an extensive interview with Kotaku, revealed that Atari, who own the Dungeons & Dragons license, approached the studio just as they had wrapped up an expansion for Neverwinter Nights 2 and asked if Obsidian would like to take on Baldur’s Gate 3.
“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.'”
Initially, it looked like Baldur’s Gate 3 was going to happen with Obsidian taking the reigns. Atari was hesitant at first, Urquhart explains, but it wasn’t before long that Atari and the studio were in talks to iron out a contract, which was negotiated in full around the end of 2008.
And then everything went south.
When the contract between Atari and Obsidian was ready to be signed, Atari began to cast doubt on whether or not the development team was up for the task. Then, only a week later, Atari Europe was purchased by Namco Bandai.
“All this work got done,” Urquhart said. “We negotiated a whole contract. Years worth of work, and it turned out they didn’t have the money.”