Larian explains why they will not release their games on subscription services, responding to the trend

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Subscription services are a trend in recent years, but many debates are being opened about their efficiency and how they affect the market. From Larian they explain why they will not release their games on subscription services, thus responding to the trend, and after having refused to offer Baldur’s Gate 3 on existing subscription services. It is true that, despite being a game of humble origins, it has earned its prestige based on quality and has been consecrated as the best thing to come in 2023 by both critics and the gamer community.

But the statements by Larian Studios boss Swen Vincke come at a time when there is still talk of how the subscription model may come to prevail. We can’t ignore that, after the Ubisoft + changes, the publisher went on record that the plan could be to change the ownership culture among users. But that, we already saw that it may be something that does not benefit everyone equally.

From Larian they explain why they will not release their games on subscription services, which may be a problem rather than a solution

In an interview with Vincke, he made it clear that they are not in favor of this type of business model. In fact, they are quite reluctant for any of their projects to be offered through them. It’s not just about a game like Baldur’s Gate 3, whose quality is enough to require a purchase to play it. Vincke’s position is that of the studio that is not associated with large companies, where it sees that this type of business model can affect what kind of games can be created. Doing so would be limiting creative ability, while also devaluing the quality of the product, as he assumes they would be throwaway products.

“Whatever the future of gaming is, content will always be king. But it will be much harder to get good content if subscription becomes the dominant model and a select few decide what gets marketed and what doesn’t,” says Vincke. For him, it is the developer who has to deliver a user experience and with this type of model, they would not be the ones responsible. Although they don’t say so directly, he clearly gives as an example the disdain Xbox showed with Baldur’s Gate 3 before it became a success.

“Getting a board of directors to approve a project driven by idealism is almost impossible, and idealism needs space to exist, even if it can lead to disaster,” the executive asserts, where he adds that “subscription models will always end up being exercises in cost/benefit analysis aimed at maximizing profit.” Although this is logical, and he knows it, he also assumes that ” cannot become a monopoly of subscription services. “We all already rely on a select group of digital distribution platforms and discoverability is brutal,” and as a result “subscription service preference will determine which games will be created.” This is something Vincke qualifies, as undesirable from a gamer’s perspective.

He is aware of the value of subscription services, however, he makes it clear that this can be dangerous because of who is driving the products. While it may be an opportunity for some studios, it is also a yoke for others. As we suggested at the time, the subscription model may be interesting for single-profile publishers, but it will not benefit all studios and employees equally, as it is not a model that guarantees sales success and the feedback that this brings to the prestige of a studio and a product.

However, we can find specific cases of subscription models that have allowed original games to succeed. We can always take the example of Pentiment or HIFI Rush on Game Pass. But we are talking about a couple of examples in a period where many other games have been seen and that, according to Vincke, would be in danger. He concludes that “the reality is that there would be winners and losers in a world where subscriptions become dominant,” and for now, as has been statistically proven, subscription services are still a very small percentage of the capital associated with this industry.

Be that as it may, the latest trends that seem to mark a future dominated by subscriptions in many areas may prove to be a threat to all productions aimed at every market. There is a lot of speculation about the quality of the products or the type of game that can be published. Trends, fashions, maximizing profits, it is not only a question of games associated with a subscription. We have had fads such as Battle Royale, which has only guaranteed success in a few games and has weighed down many others.

It is clear that for a small studio, profits come through sales, as it is not only the value of the revenue that is seen. It also has repercussions on its image, since Larian Studios, a little over a year ago, was not as highly regarded as it is now. All this, derived from such an overwhelming success as Baldur’s Gate 3 .

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