Baldur's Gate 3 Surprises Industry Giants

The unexpected success of Baldurs Gate 3 surprised Larian Studios and Microsoft, with a leaked email revealing Microsofts low valuation of the game before its console plans.

The unexpected success of Baldur's Gate 3 took both the gaming community and industry giants by surprise. Even the game's developer, Larian Studios, was caught off guard as concurrent player counts on Steam soared past 800,000. It appears that even Microsoft, a major player in the gaming industry, underestimated the game's potential.

According to reports from Polygon, internal Xbox communications revealed that Microsoft may not have had high expectations for Baldur's Gate 3. In a leaked email chain initiated by Xbox chief Phil Spencer in May 2022, discussions revolved around the consequences of delaying the release of Starfield. Spencer openly acknowledged the predicament this posed, as it created a significant gap in Xbox's 2022 game lineup. He tasked executives such as Matt Booty and Sarah Bond with finding titles to fill this void.

These leaked emails contained lists of potential third-party games that could be added to Xbox Game Pass, along with estimated costs. Interestingly, while titles like Dying Light 2 and Suicide Squad were evaluated at around $50 million and $250 million, respectively, Baldur's Gate 3 was labeled as a "second-run Stadia PC RPG" and valued at a mere $5 million.

The term "second-run" likely alludes to Baldur's Gate 3's initial release on Google's Stadia platform, though some interpreted it as a slight. Nevertheless, Baldur's Gate 3 held significance for the now-defunct Stadia platform, with its announcement occurring at the 2019 Google Stadia conference event.

It's worth noting that Microsoft's conservative evaluation of Baldur's Gate 3 occurred prior to Larian Studios announcing any console plans for the game and during the final months of Stadia's existence. In hindsight, Microsoft's estimation of $5 million for Baldur's Gate 3 seems laughable, but it was based on the game being a sequel to a dormant franchise, initially launching on PC outside of Microsoft's store, and on a struggling streaming platform. Surprisingly, even Larian Studios appears to have taken this evaluation in stride.

Baldur's Gate 3's remarkable success remains astonishing, even when considering that $5 million is relatively low for a game of its caliber. The game belongs to a niche genre, and the popularity it achieved is virtually unprecedented. This leaked report further underscores just how unexpected and significant Baldur's Gate 3's triumph was in the gaming world.


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