Fallout: New Vegas contract with Bethesda, wherein the developer only received royalties if the game matched or exceeded an 85 rating on Metacritic. Leaving aside the fact that Metacritic is a woefully unbalanced aggregation of review scores from both vetted and unvetted publications, agreements like this can leave indie studios -- like Obsidian -- in the lurch should that Metacritic score just barely miss the mark.
Unfortunately for Obsidian, Fallout: New Vegas currently has a Metacritic average of 84, a single point below the average that would've earned the company royalties on its product. "[Fallout: New Vegas] was a straight payment, no royalties, only a bonus if we got an 85+ on Metacritic, which we didn't," Obsidian creative director and co-owner Chris Avellone told one Twitter user.
The Metacritic news comes just one day after we reported layoffs at the California-based developer -- layoffs that were said to be the result of a canceled next-gen project (codenamed "North Carolina") for an unnamed console. New Vegas lead producer Jason Fader's Facebook profile reflects the recent layoffs, also outing himself as former lead producer on the North Carolina project. His credentials also list an unnamed project known as "Vermont," but that could be Obsidian's upcoming South Park RPG (we've reached out for clarification).
Additionally, Kotaku reports that the North Carolina project was to be published by Microsoft, and was intended for the still unannounced Xbox 360 successor console. Our tipster tells us that the North Carolina project was "desperately needed" for the studio's continued survival, which matches reports that Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart "choked up" while addressing his employees about the canned project.