Baldur’s Gate 3 Dev Larian’s Publishing Director Calls Games Industry Layoffs an ‘Avoidable F*ck Up’
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Baldur’s Gate 3 Dev Larian’s Publishing Director Calls Games Industry Layoffs an ‘Avoidable F*ck Up’

Over the past few months, the developers of Baldur's Gate 3 have used its platform during awards season speeches to advocate for a healthy games industry. This tradition now extends to its publishing director, who in one Recent Interview with Game Fileshared his thoughts on the industry-wide layoffs that have plagued developers over the past two years, calling it “avoidable nonsense.”

The massive layoffs by 2024 stem from Nintendo announcing its restructuring in March, which has the potential to affect more than 100 contract employees; Sony laid off nearly 900 employees in February — including developers from studios like Insomniac, Naughty Dog, and Guerrilla, and Microsoft laid off 1,900 employees from its workforce following its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard in January.

The complex and avoidable nature of layoffs

Speaking with Game File's Steven Totilo, Michael Doz compared major gaming companies to massive oil tankers based on their ability to move toward success. If a company fails to plan accordingly while giving appropriate financial reserves to developers, the fallout is sure to come through layoffs. Rather than feeling that layoffs are an inevitable aspect of the gaming industry, Doose argues that they can be avoided.

“But to prevent these massive operational failures that we call layoffs…they're an avoidable mess. That's really all they are,” Douse told Game File. “That's why you see one after another. Because companies are going: 'Okay, finally. Now we can do it too. We've been wanting to do it for centuries. Everyone else has. So why can't we?' ' It's actually kind of sick.”

Douse further said that any issuer layoffs do not risk bankrupting the company, but instead risk “angering shareholders.” This shareholder-driven business mentality was somewhat typical of Larian CEO Sven Vincke. called during his acceptance speech For the Best Story Award for Baldur's Gate 3. Dous echoed Vinke's sentiments, saying that companies should curb their greed and plan better so that developers have adequate financial reserves available should they need to take the game in a different direction.

“(Layoffs) are a very complex and nuanced decision,” Douse said. “But the idea that it's an inevitability that has to happen is just not true.”

Being agile is important. Big companies are not agile

Douse credits most of the achievements of Baldur's Gate 3 to maintaining a healthy work environment for its employees, namely that Larian Studios was a privately owned company that was indifferent to shareholders. Asked if Larian Studios would ever go public, Douz said it might make them more money but it would be “contrary to the quality of what we're trying to do.”

“So it's not going to make our game better. It's going to rush us,” Douce said. “If you asked us what Baldur's Gate III would look like, how much it would cost and how it would sound three years ago, I wouldn't have known. We took it day by day. As an operation, we built reserves. We We created reserves and fallbacks based on what we thought we would need, fortunately, it's not just important for us to be agile.”

Passive Marketing vs. Socially Resonant Communications

Although Douse does not subscribe to the notion that the video game industry is on the brink of collapse, he does feel that traditional methods of marketing on social media websites such as Twitter/X are becoming less important.

“I mean, we didn't really do a lot of marketing for Baldur's Gate III. People talk about the bear scene as a big marketing beat. It wasn't. It was a communication: something we It was decided to demonstrate an extreme of romance in the game, in contrast to the Karlach scene in the restaurant.”

Douse argued that marketing, while a form of communication, does not generate the social resonance online that people want to engage in meaningful conversations.

“The success of a sport is defined by how socially influential it is,” Douz said. “It's not defined by the person who decided that the game was successful. That's a fantastic thing.”

In the latter half of the interview, Doz drew a parallel to the critical and commercial success of Baldur's Gate 3, despite being a “fucking CPRG” that investors would have otherwise never taken a chance on, to the tremendous success of Paleworld – which grossed $19 million. Reached players less than two weeks after launch.

“They took a bunch of mechanics that they knew people liked, made a game that didn't care about how the game was supposed to be, and they gave it straight to players who wanted to buy it. Decided. It's really very simple. It's not rocket science,” Doz said. “Analysts are confused, because they didn't see this happening. And they want basic data sets and predictability. They're going to be very confused in the future. Me too. I like to be confused. We work best in chaos. “

Isaiah Colbert is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @ShinEyeZehUhh

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