The new fantasy role-playing game, Baldur’s Gate 3, has garnered immense success this year, earning rave reviews and a massive player base. It had over 800,000 concurrent players on Steam, ranking it among the top 10 most-played games on the platform. This triumph has ignited discussions about setting new standards for RPGs and raised questions about the prevalent trend of microtransactions in the industry.
Some argue that Baldur’s Gate 3 should indeed establish a new benchmark for quality in gaming. They question why players should tolerate unfinished games or additional expenses after purchasing a title. The desire for more depth and complexity in games is evident.
In reality, Baldur’s Gate 3 is an exception rather than the rule. Its success is attributed to several factors, including the appeal of the Dungeons & Dragons IP and a highly experienced development team. However, the key factor is that Larian Studios, the developer, is privately owned.
Larian Studios, with over 450 employees and offices across six countries, possesses the resources to create triple-A games without the pressures of the public market. In contrast, many game developers are either part of publicly traded companies or too small to undertake such ambitious projects. The majority of Larian Studios’ funding comes from previous successes and sales of Baldur’s Gate 3.
Swen Vincke, the CEO and majority shareholder of Larian, has the creative freedom to make decisions without financial constraints. In contrast, publicly traded gaming companies are often pressured to maximize profits, leading to the proliferation of microtransactions and other revenue-generating methods. Vincke remains committed to his creative vision and does not prioritize revenue over game quality.
In the gaming industry, major publishers often seek to mitigate risk through popular trends and microtransactions. Games like Baldur’s Gate 3, with their inherent risks and complex features, are exceptions. Three years of early access and the potential for unfinished products highlight the unique position of Larian Studios.
Publicly traded companies focus on revenue maximization to meet growth targets and maintain share prices, often at the expense of long-term goodwill. Larian Studios, with its independence, combines the budget and scale of a publicly traded company without the associated pressures.
In summary, Baldur’s Gate 3 represents a rare success in the gaming industry, offering a deep and engaging experience without relying on microtransactions. The game’s developer, Larian Studios, is privately owned, allowing it to prioritize creative vision over short-term profits. This stands in contrast to publicly traded gaming companies, which often prioritize revenue maximization to meet financial targets.