Baldur’s Gate 3 developers use award show win to address state of the industry

Baldur’s Gate 3 developers use award show win to address state of the industry

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“I know everyone here is scared because sh*t’s really f**ked up.”

Baldur's Gate 3 screenshot showing Shadowheart leading characters forward in a misty area

Image credit: Larian

Baldur’s Gate 3 won Game of the Year at the DICE Awards last week, and unlike at The Game Awards, the developers were actually allowed to take some time with their acceptance speech. And let it be known, Larian used that time wisely, addressing both the current state of the industry and the importance of player experience.

When Larian’s director of publishing Michael Douse took to the stage, he acknowledged that while this is a “really human industry” it can also be very “bad sometimes at showing developers what they’re worth”. He then discussed the wave of layoffs that have affected so many people and game development studios over the past year.

“I want you all to know that you are talented and that you matter, and that you are the future of this industry. Don’t let that flame be extinguished by our collective mistakes,” Douse said. “I know everyone here is scared because shit’s really fucked up.”

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“All of your projections are wrong and it’s scary,” Douse continued. “But we persevere as an industry, we will persevere as an industry, and you will all find your place and you will all be welcomed back with open arms. And we’ll still be making games for the players, and for you, and with these guys.”

Following his colleague’s words, Larian’s head of production David Walgrave took the mic, stating others probably want to know what the “secret” to the studio’s success is.

“Last year, I started thinking the secret to our success comes from [basing decisions around asking] ‘what does the player want?’. What do I think is best for the game? What is the most fun, the most crazy?” Walgrave continued by saying that hearing someone say something can’t be done always gave the Baldur’s Gate 3 team a “kick up the arse to actually make it happen”. The developer also stated Larian only ever asks one price for the game and “that’s it”. After that, you “own it for the rest of your life”.

“We don’t have shareholders, but we also don’t think about them,” Walgrave continued (although, it is worth noting, Tencent owns 30 percent of the developer). This was met with applause.

“What we have tried in the last 20 years is to treat people like we would like to be treated ourselves as players, as gamers. So we don’t make decisions where we think this could make us the most money. On the long run, building a community, building a player base, building games that are actually fun is going to make you the most money.

“That’s it.”

GOTY @larianstudios speech at DICE 2/2

“We ask you to pay one price only for the game, and that’s it. You can own it for the rest of your life.”

“Building a community, building a player base, building games that are actually fun is going to make you the most money.”

— Sarah M (@RetroCozyArt) February 16, 2024

Larian’s words have been praised on social media – and held up in contrast to the recent statement by publishing conglomerate Embracer, which recently said its “overruling principle is to always maximise shareholder value in any given situation”.

Embracer has now laid off eight percent of its workforce as part of its restructuring programme, which was announced in June last year. This restructuring has seen studios such as Saints Row’s Volition closed down and projects such as a new Deus Ex game cancelled.

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