The success of Baldur's Gate 3 came as a surprise to many people. This includes developer Larian Studios, with concurrent player counts surpassing 800,000 players on Steam. It also seemed to surprise another big name in the industry, Microsoft.
Despite Baldur's Gate 3 generating hype from its early access period, Microsoft may not have thought much of it, according to Polygon. In one part of the Xbox leak emerging from the FTC case, expectations for Baldur's Gate 3 seemed lower than they would turn out.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer started an email chain in May 2022 to discuss the ramifications of delaying Starfield before publicly announcing it. Spencer acknowledged this was a disaster situation as this left a gap for Xbox's 2022 releases. He instructed executives like Matt Booty and Sarah Bond to fill in the gap left by the empty release schedule.
Among these emails are lists of 3rd party games to potentially add to Game Pass along with the projected cost. These titles ranged from Dying Light 2, evaluated at around $50 million, and Suicide Squad at around $250 million. Baldur's Gate 3 comparatively was called a "second-run Stadia PC RPG" and evaluated at $5 million.
What's in a run?
Some have pointed out that the term "second-run" may refer to is Baldur's Gate 3 initially launching on Google's Stadia platform, even if some think it sounds like an insult. Yet Baldur's Gate 3 was a big deal for the now-dead platform. Its announcement even occurred at the 2019 Google Stadia conference event.
Microsoft's low-ball evaluation came before Larian Studios announced any console plans for Baldur's Gate 3 and during Stadia's final months. Hindsight states Microsoft's amount estimate for Baldur's Gate 3 was laughable, but what the company had to go off last year was a sequel to a dormant franchise whose launch was on PC outside Microsoft's store and a dying streaming platform. Even Larian seems to take the evaluation at the time in stride.
I adore Baldur's Gate 3 quite a lot, but its success was shocking to me. Even if $5 million is still low for the kind of game it is, it's still within a niche genre. A CRPG of its popularity is practically unheard of, and this leaked report only further highlights how big of a surprise Baldur's Gate 3 really was.
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