Xbox didn’t think highly of ‘second-run Stadia PC RPG’ Baldur’s Gate 3

Microsoft significantly underestimated Baldur’s Gate 3‘s immense popularity, a leaked May 2022 email chain has revealed.

As surfaced through a larger Microsoft leak stemming from the FTC v. Microsoft case, Phil Spencer, the company’s CEO of Gaming, was discussing various games to potentially bring to its Xbox Game Pass service. In a chart Spencer shared with other company executives, titles were listed and ranked based on the value Xbox was thinking they’d bring to Game Pass.

Interestingly, Baldur’s Gate 3 was listed low among the likes of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. The reasoning, according to the chart, was that Baldur’s Gate 3 was viewed as a “second-run Stadia PC RPG.”

On the one hand, Microsoft was far from the only company that undersold Larian’s Dungeons & Dragons RPG. After a three-year early access period, BG3 got an official release in August, became 2023’s highest-rated game so far alongside The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and was one of Steam’s biggest launches ever. Larian even noted that the high Steam player counts were “way, way beyond” expectations.

In fact, after Polygon wrote that Microsoft had “completely misjudged Baldur’s Gate 3,” Larian director of publishing Michael Dowse posted on X (Twitter): “In their defence, so did everyone.” He attributed this to “the genre, and the way we approach things, and the way we execute things,” as well as a lack of “any existing data that could have told anyone how BG3 was going to perform.”

On the flip side, it is odd to see Microsoft label Baldur’s Gate 3 a “Stadia” game, given that PC was always positioned as the primary platform. The company was also only prepared to pay $5 million USD (about $6.7 million CAD) to bring BG3 to Game Pass, which, given its huge success on PC, would clearly have not been the best deal for Larian.

Interestingly, Larian had another hurdle with Xbox that took a while to overcome. Because Xbox pushes for all current-gen games to be released on both Xbox Series X and S, companies often have to deal with parity issues between the former 4K-capable console and the latter 1440p-capped box. Meanwhile, Larian launched BG3 on Sony’s single current-gen console, the PS5, earlier this month.

Ultimately, Larian worked out a solution with Microsoft, and BG3 will come to Xbox Series X and S later this year, although the latter console will not offer split-screen co-op.

Outside of BG3, the Xbox email chain is interesting because it shows how Xbox — at least at one point — views the value proposition of certain games, as well as the kind of cash it might throw toward each one. Given that the video game industry is notoriously secretive, this sort of information is particularly enlightening.

Elsewhere in Microsoft’s self-imposed FTC leak, we got a look at the company’s current and next-gen console plans, a variety of unannounced games, aspirations to acquire Nintendo and more.

Image credit: Larian

Via: Polygon



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