It may surprise you to learn that Larian Studios, developers of the mega-hit (and very horny) Baldur’s Gate 3 did not expect the meteoric rise of the game’s popularity on Steam once it left Early Access.
Baldur’s Gate 3 peaked at over 814,000 concurrent players on Steam, making it just shy of becoming Steam’s biggest release of 2023 so far. As it stands, it’s only a few thousands behind Hogwarts Legecay, which is an unusual feat for a systems-heavy single-player RPG.
Considering how long the game has spent in Steam Early Access, Larian rightly thought that its popularity had already peaked.
“This was not in the books at all,” Larian founder and boss, Swen Vincke, told PC Gamer. “This was way, way beyond what we expected.”
“There’s also no precedent for it, for our type of game to have that many people playing concurrently… Everybody here is very happy. You see a lot of smiling faces,” he added.
Before Baldur’s Gate 3, Larian’s most popular game was Divinity: Original Sin 2, which peaked at 93,701 concurrent players on Steam at its launch. Incidentally, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is as close as Xbox owners can get to playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on their consoles, until Larian officially confirms the game for Xbox Series X/S.
In fact, the studio thought the game would not even reach its Early Access heights.
“We’ve seen that in the past, other games were very successful in Early Access and then on the day of release they didn’t sell much more because they saturated already,” he explained.
“It was a thing I worried about, because it is Dungeons & Dragons and a more complex ruleset, so getting people on-boarded is not the easiest thing in the universe. That was one thing where I said if there’s a risk, that’s it, people saying ‘I’m not doing this Dungeons & Dragons stuff.'”
As happy as everyone at the studio is, however, Vincke was rightly scared of having some players in that massive audience run into major issues or big bugs. “God, I hope there’s no big bug left,” Vincke thought.
“We have reports coming in from people having issues, so we’re focused on fixing those issues, that’s very much on everyone’s minds,” he added.
Larian isn’t quite ready just yet to talk about what’s next, but it’s probably not going to be a Baldur’s Gate 3 expansion for a variety of reasons.