Even though there’s still over a month to go before the Belgian Game Awards 2020 take place as part of 1UP 2020, we’re already happy to announce that Swen Vincke will receive the very first Belgian Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony. The award is a celebration of the career and achievements of a game developer who has made an everlasting impact on the #BelgianGamesIndustry, and this man fits the bill perfectly.
As the only soul crazy enough to start a game studio in Belgium during the mid nineties, the sole founder of Larian Studios is effectively the founding father of the #BelgianGamesIndustry. And while he currently runs an internationally renowned studio with 200 employees spread out over three continents, and is creating the sequel to one of the most treasured RPG franchises ever, his road to fame and fortune wasn’t without hardships.
Inspired by the freedom of Richard Garriott’s Ultima series, Larian Studios was founded to create world class role-playing games, yet no publisher believed this new kid on the block would be able to pull that off. While this contributed to the demise of their first RPG project LMK, they struck back with the action RPG’s Divine Divinity (2002) and Beyond Divinity (2004).
Unfortunately, publisher trouble would become a constant in Larian’s history. Divinity II, which had great design ideas like mind reading and the ability to roam the world as a dragon, was pushed out of the door massively undercooked, and got a very poor reception, almost driving the studio out of business. It wasn’t until Vincke unshackled himself from publisher control and turned to crowdfunding, self-publishing, and the community that Larian’s wildest design ideas could blossom into world class RPG’s.
He also pushed his company to the brink of extinction in the process. Going all-in on the development of Divinity: Original Sin was a risky move, but one that ultimately set up the studio for international success and expansion. Upon release, follow-up Divinity: Original Sin 2 was named one of the best RPG’s of all time, an accolade that surely helped Vincke in his quest to obtain the keys to the legendary city of Baldur’s Gate.
It’s safe to say that the amazing work of his studio has inspired a lot of people to follow their dreams and get into games. Larian Studios has been the fire that’s fueled the #BelgianGamesIndustry for many years and while the success undoubtedly is a team effort, it all boils down to the idea of one man that just liked to see his friends have fun with the games he made. Congratulations Swen. We wouldn’t be here without you.
If you want to join the celebration of Swen Vincke and all the other winners to be announced during the award ceremony, you can still get your tickets here. If you fancy hearing more about how Larian convinced Wizards of the Coast to hand over the Baldur’s Gate licence, Larian’s Spencer Low will tell you all about it during his talk at 1UP Conference.
This celebration of #BelgianGamesIndustry success wouldn’t be possible without the valued support of WALGA, ScreenBrussels, VAF/GAME, Flanders DC, Wallimage, Game Mania and Cronos Interactive.