Skip to main content

BG3’s Swen Vincke paints bleak picture of subscription-dominated gaming

“Trust me – you really don’t want that”
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Larian Studios has long been open about not putting Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox Game Pass or any other subscription service, but in light of Ubisoft’s recent restructuring of its Ubisoft+ service, the BG3 developer’s chief Swen Vincke elaborated on his stance regarding subscriptions in gaming.

“Whatever the future of games looks like, 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,” Vincke wrote on social media. “Direct from developer to players is the way.”

Vincke wrote that “getting a board to ok a project fueled by idealism is almost impossible and idealism needs room to exist, even if it can lead to disaster.” He warned that “subscription models will always end up being cost/benefit analysis exercises intended to maximize profit.”

BG3 Zevlor

No deals with the devil for Larian Studios.

One can argue that the influx of live-service games, often ordered from top-level executives with very little connection to the art, already showcases this very well. Some games just look and feel like they’re designed for the single purpose of making money, not to be a fun product.

“There is nothing wrong with that but it may not become a monopoly of subscription services. We are already all dependent on a select group of digital distribution platforms and discoverability is brutal. Should those platforms all switch to subscription, it’ll become savage,” he continued. “In such a world by definition the preference of the subscription service will determine what games get made. Trust me – you really don’t want that.”

He clarified that he didn’t “have an issue” with developers putting their games on such services, especially when they may not get a chance to make the titles otherwise in the first place, but he emphasized that people won’t see any of Larian’s games appear on them. “I just want to make sure the other ecosystem doesn’t die because it’s valuable,” Vincke concluded.

To illustrate the point: In an internal email that was leaked during the court hearings surrounding Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard takeover, an internal analysis of potential Game Pass candidates was included. Baldur’s Gate 3, described as a “second-run Stadia PC RPG,” was estimated to cost Microsoft a mere $5 million USD to bring to its subscription service – the lowest price range on the list. Vincke commented this with “someone didn’t do their homework” back then, but this exactly reinforces his latest points about subscription services: If they decide which games are made, something like Baldur’s Gate 3 would likely not exist.