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PC Gamer
Fraser Brown

Baldur's Gate 3 will never be on Game Pass, says Larian CEO: 'We made a big game, so I think there's a fair price to be paid for that'

Baldur's Gate 3 - Withers the necromancer holds up his hand while talking to the player in camp.

If you were hoping that Baldur's Gate 3's arrival on Xbox would herald its inclusion on Game Pass for prospective console and PC players, it looks like you're out of luck. Larian's impressive RPG will continue to only be available if you're willing to shell out—but I promise you it's worth it. In my Baldur's Gate 3 review, I gave it one of our highest ever scores of 97%. 

Chatting to IGN, Larian CEO Swen Vincke noted that keeping it off Game Pass was always the plan. "Oh, we always said from the get-go, it wasn't going to be on Game Pass, it's not going to be on Game Pass." 

None of Larian's previous games have been released on the subscription service, so Baldur's Gate 3's exclusion isn't an outlier. Vincke adds that the upfront cost still gives players plenty of value, and that it's important to the future of the studio. "We made a big game, so I think there's a fair price to be paid for that, and I think that that is okay. We don't charge you any micro-transactions on top of it, so you get what you pay for. Upfront it's a big meaty game. So I think that should be able to exist as it is. This is what allows us to continue making other games."

Despite the plethora of games available on Game Pass and extensive support from the likes of EA, Microsoft's platform has its fair share of detractors, as well as developers who claim to have been burned by it. Earlier in the year, Jumpship and Playdead founder Dino Patti said Somerville's launch was hampered by its inclusion on Game Pass. "I also think it hurts sales. Because a lot of people just go in and try it and they don't invest. If they don't like the first 10 minutes? That’s it. Also, if you don't make the first 10 minutes amazing, maybe it's also a problem."

Somerville received a mixed critical reception, and we only awarded it 45% in our own Somerville review, so Game Pass certainly shouldn't be considered the main factor in its performance, but it's not just indie developers looking to explain lower-than-anticipated enthusiasm from players. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has also expressed his scepticism over Game Pass plenty of times.

For Larian, there's likely isn't much upside to a Game Pass launch. On Steam, it's currently sitting at 7th in the charts despite launching back in August. Larian hasn't released numbers, but given the near universal acclaim, high concurrent players and the amount of people looking to read about it every day here on PCG, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest it's done very, very well. If people are willing to buy it at full price, and it doesn't need extra visibility, Game Pass doesn't seem to offer much.

While Game Pass subscribers might be disappointed, it feels like a positive sign for the industry as a whole. That a grognardy CRPG from an independent studio—albeit one that's large and includes Tencent as a shareholder—can enjoy this kind of success and recognition without trying to tempt players with zero upfront cost is impressive, and suggests that a future where we're all just borrowing our games from platforms like Game Pass isn't as inevitable as was once believed. 

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