Someone else’s IP is the issue though, isn’t it?
It’s not “someone else’s” IP. Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky work at Obsidian - Jason D. Anderson works at InXile, also owned by Microsoft. Feargus Uruqart was the game director, and is in charge of Obsidian.
It’s very much Obsidian’s IP, that got taken off them by their publisher, misused, and then eventually sold to Bethesda.
I’m not saying they necessarily want to work on it (though they had indicated as much as recently as 3-4 years ago), but the idea that it’s “someone else’s IP” is kinda ridiculous. FWIW, JE Sawyer, who takes a lot of questions on this sort of thing, says that MS has largely left the teams under it alone to develop their own projects, but history relates that MS is happy to move IPs and technology around.
I don’t think any company is likely to become “the Fallout factory”, frankly. Bethesda put out two single-player Fallout games in the last 12 years, Obsidian put out one, that’s not even much of a difference (which explains why FO:NV rides so high - if Bethesda had put out say, four Fallout games in that time, it might look more minor). Bethesda isn’t likely to have time to do another Fallout game for 5-10 years, at the current rate. I mean, Starfield is still well outside date-announcement range, and even with Bethesda liking to announce things less time before they come out, it’s probably not 2021, or even 2022, and TES6 is probably at least three years after that, and that’s optimistic (unless Bethesda have the studio they bought to make FO76 working on one of them). Whereas one suspects Obsidian could turn around a pretty polished Fallout game with their main team in 2-3 years (their days of bug-hell are long past, to judge by everything since Pillars 2, which was vastly less buggy than, say, D:OS2 on release).
This is also why Avowed is unlikely to really be competing with Elder Scrolls - even if it has sequels, they’ll probably be “out of sync” with Elder Scrolls. Avowed is probably 2-3 years from release, maybe a little less (I could see mid-late 2022). If Starfield is even out by then, I’ll be slightly surprised, and TES6 won’t even be in development, let alone a notional Fallout 5.
So I could see the main Obsidian team doing another Fallout game post-Avowed, which if it took them 2-3 years, would mean it still probably came out before TES6. Hell, if Avowed was a big hit, they could probably turn around an Avowed 2 before TES6 (rather than Fallout).
Man, I’d hate to be a kid who grew up playing Skyrim, as say, a young teenager, and then expected to play a sequel - before Skyrim, you could reasonably expect no more than 5-6 years between TES games. We’re now at 9, and it’s looking like it’ll be at least another 5, probably more. If you were say, 15 when you played Skyrim, you could easily be 30 before TES6 actually hit. I guess the nostalgia-bomb would ensure pretty good sales but damn.