An originally small Flemish studio with humble origins in Ghent growing into a developer powerhouse with multiple studios across the globe is no ordinary news. That same company working on a world-class series like Baldur’s Gate rightfully deserves our attention. That’s why we’d like to take a moment to highlight Larian Studios’ remarkable journey that brought them to developing Baldur’s Gate 3.
The cobbled road to Baldur’s Gate 3
The first two titles in the Baldur’s Gate series were developed over two decades ago by Bioware, which then went on to make its own games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. So how did Larian Studios end up working on the famous IP set in Wizards of the Coast’s magical Dungeons & Dragons universe?
Travel back with us in time all the way back to 1996 and we find Larian’s CEO Swen Vincke struggling to release a financially successful title. The road to developing a stable business was a bumpy one and after some small titles that hardly kept the lights on, work was started on their own fantasy RPG universe with Divine Divinity, which released in 2002 and would go on to become their cornerstone to success.
8 years later Divinity II released on the Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 to critical and commercial acclaim, which further helped convince people of the studio’s potential and made it possible for the next title, Divinity: Original Sin, to collect almost $1M in funds on Kickstarter. After some delays, the game managed to sell over 500.000 copies in the first week, a success that was sorely needed, because the studio would have gone bankrupt if it failed to sell.
Around this time, the first meeting with Wizards of the Coast happened, when Swen flew to the US to ask the juggernaut publisher if they could work on the Baldur’s Gate franchise. After all, no other studio in the world but them would be up to the task. But it wasn’t enough to convince the IP owners yet.
Then came Divinity: Original Sin II. The studio’s second crowdfunded project not only met but exceeded expectations, with the initial funding goal of $500,000 achieved within hours. Not only was it a huge financial success, the title also holds an impressive 95 average score on Metacritic.
Sealing the deal
Larian Studios expanded its horizons and released versions of Divinity: Original Sin II for all platforms, attracting an even wider audience. Building on this success, the studio has opened multiple studios in cities around the world. Larian Studios currently boasts a workforce of over 400 employees. Growth that was needed to seal the deal with Wizards of the Coast.
A second talk about working on Baldur’s Gate 3 went a lot easier and development started in 2017, with an Early Access launch in 2020 and players all over the world seeing first-hand how much love and care was put into this world. Development continued and now, in August 2023, the game is ready to be played in its entirety. With other RPG developers even warning us not to take this level of detail for granted and raising the standards very high as BG3 has over 174 hours of recorded footage.
Impact on our local games industry
There is no denying the positive effect that Larian Studios has had on the Flemish and Belgian games industry, providing a large percentage of our industry’s earnings, employing people in the Ghent (and international) studios and motivating students in schools like Howest DAE and LUCA School of Arts to one day work for the world-class studio. Larian Studios also supports local initiatives to help grow the industry and has been FLEGA’s Gold sponsor for many years, for which we are eternally grateful.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is currently sitting at the very top of Steam’s best sellers and is positioned to sell millions of copies globally, over the years to come. Larian Studios excels in its communication with its community and has shown the world what our region is capable of. We’re very excited for the future!