Why Did Baldur’s Gate 3 Release Early on PC to Avoid Starfield Clash? Larian CEO Explains

Starfield Baldur's Gate 3

Last year, two of the biggest names in the genre – Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 and Bethesda’s Starfield – were set to go head-to-head in a release date clash.

However, Larian made the strategic decision to bring forward Baldur’s Gate 3’s PC launch to avoid a direct confrontation with the Bethesda juggernaut.

But what led to this move, and how did it impact the games’ performance?

Respecting the “Bigger Boat” – Larian’s Deference to Bethesda

Swen Vincke, the CEO of Larian Studios, the developers behind Baldur’s Gate 3, recently shed light on the decision to split the game’s release between PC and PlayStation 5.

Initially slated to launch on August 31, 2023, for both platforms, the PC version was brought forward to August 3, effectively avoiding a head-to-head collision with Starfield’s early access launch.

In a candid interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Vincke showed his respect for Bethesda, the studio behind Starfield, and compared this situation to a marine encounter, saying,

“If you’re at sea and a bigger boat passes by, the rule is that you go out of the way for the bigger boat – they were the bigger boat.”

Despite Baldur’s Gate 3’s immense anticipation, Larian acknowledged Bethesda’s industry heavyweight status and opted to give Starfield a wide berth.

Carving a Niche – Baldur’s Gate 3’s Intimate, Narrative Focus

While yielding to Starfield’s might, Larian wasn’t content to simply fade into the background.

“We went out of the way for [Starfield], but we still wanted the world to pay attention to us”

Vincke emphasized the team’s efforts to differentiate Baldur’s Gate 3, highlighting its focus on narrative, player identity, cinematics, and immersion.

In contrast to Starfield’s vast, open-world scale, Larian positioned Baldur’s Gate 3 as a more intimate, customized experience tailored for RPG lovers.

“We had a lot of narrative-heavy permutations, so we wanted to showcase that the game was very big on identity, and how that identity [is] reflected into the game. We were also a much more cinematic game. Immersion gameplay was similar in what our ambitions were. I think those first three were definitely highlights of what we wanted to focus on.”

This strategy seemed to pay off, with Baldur’s Gate 3 garnering widespread critical acclaim and numerous awards, while Starfield’s reception was more muted.

However, both titles achieved commercial success, underscoring the enduring appeal of the RPG genre.

What’s Next for These Acclaimed RPG Franchises?

Looking ahead, the future plans for these franchises remain uncertain.

Recently Larian has announced that it’s not currently working on Baldur’s Gate 3 content expansion or its next iteration, instead shifting focus on creating its original IP.

Meanwhile, Bethesda is preparing Starfield’s first expansion, “Shattered Space,” releasing somewhere around the end of this year as per rumors.

Sources: GamesIndustry.biz interview with Swen Vincke

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