“Direct from developer to players is the way”, the Larian CEO stated.
Game subscription services have been prevalent in the current generation. PS Plus, Xbox Game Pass and more bundle deals advertise huge libraries of games for small monthly fees, and it's only getting more widespread as big companies to put new, AAA releases on their premium services.
This has created a sort of expectation for the community, who all wondered when something like the GOTY-winning “Badur's Gate 3” would be arriving to Microsoft's Game Pass service.
Hopes were dashed however after Swen Vinke, the CEO of Larian Studios said that the Forgotten Realms-set cRPG would not be joining any subscription catalogues anytime soon.
Vinke gave their definitive answer in a December interview with IGN. “We made a big game, so I think there's a fair price to be paid for that, and I think that that is okay.”, he remarked. “We don't charge you any micro-transactions on top of it, so you get what you pay for.”
In the weeks that followed, the Larian Studios founder returned Twitter to give more context around the decision as part of a response to recent game exec statements.
“Content Will Always Be King”
Larian's head honcho Swen Vinke is adamant in the game company's commitment to keep their biggest titles off of premium subscription services, and it came up once again in their latest
The Baldur's Gate 3 dev lead recently went on Twitter to comment on a recent statement from Ubisoft executive Philippe Tremblay, who advocated for the subscription play model in an interview with IGN.
Philippe Tremblay, the director of subscriptions at Ubisoft, discussed the launch of the Ubisoft+ Premium and Ubisoft+ Classics subscriptions and what needs to happen before subscription services become a more significant slice of the video game business. https://t.co/wyWqwrkkOF pic.twitter.com/TMOlvLMbas
— IGN (@IGN) January 17, 2024
The hot take immediately earned the ire of the fanbase, who reacted as well as you could expect. Least of which was the CEO of Larian Studios, who shared his concerns on the curernt ecosystem of game development.
In a quote Tweet, Larian's founder said that “.. content will always be king. But it’s going to be a lot harder to get good content if subscription becomes the dominant model and a select group gets to decide what goes to market and what not.” Swen Vinke's concerns are certainly valid, given that a select group of people decide which games to cycle out of a service after a certain time period to keep the selection fresh.
Larian CEO Explains Dangers of Subscription Monopoly
“Direct from developer to players is the way”, Vinke advocated. He continued to say that idealism is encouraged to exist in a board-less system “even if it can lead to disaster”. Moreover, the Larian lead argued that the direction we're headed in wasn't a good one, claiming that “the preference of the subscription service will determine what games get made.”
TLDR ; you won’t find our games on a subscription service even if I respect that for many developers it presents an opportunity to make their game. I don’t have an issue with that. I just want to make sure the other ecosystem doesn’t die because it’s valuable.
— Swen Vincke @where? (@LarAtLarian) January 17, 2024
In summary, the widespread presence of game subscription services shouldn't let players expect big labors of love to discount itself from what they're really worth. It's true that these monthly subs offer a convenient way to enjoy more games at lower cost, but they shouldn't get to dictate which games get to be discovered by wider audiences.
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