Larian CEO Swen Vincke accepts Baldur's Gate 3's latest award by blasting corporate 'greed' devastating devs: 'I've been fighting with publishers my whole life, and I keep on seeing the same mistakes'

Swen Vincke accepting the Best Narrative award for Baldur's Gate 3 at the GDCA.
(Image credit: GDC)

The dire state of the games industry has been impossible to ignore at this year's GDC: Dwarf Fortress' Tarn Adams has been excoriating execs, devs have been literally screaming about it, and now Larian CEO Swen Vincke has taken to the stage and criticised the "greed, which has been fucking this thing up for so long."

Vincke was accepting Baldur's Gate 3's GDCA award for Best Narrative when he began speaking about his experience of short-term, solely profit-motivated thinking at game publishers: "I've been fighting with publishers my entire life, and I keep on seeing the same mistakes, over and over and over.

"It's always the quarterly profits. The only thing that matters is the numbers," said Vincke of his publisher struggles over the years, an executive mentality that always produces mass layoffs and developer despair. "Then you fire everybody," continued Vincke, "and then next year you're gonna say 'Shit! I'm out of developers!' and you're gonna start hiring people again," which just kicks off "the same loop" anew.

Instead of that carnivorous process, Vincke proposes an alternative: "Slow down a little bit. Slow down on the greed. Be resilient, take care of the people, don't lose the institutional knowledge that's been built up in all of those people that you lose every single time… because it really pisses me off."

All of which sounds eminently reasonable to me, but perhaps that's why I'm not currently sat in some kind of Herman Miller chair in a videogame company C-suite. But it must make sense to at least some of the executives out there too (besides Vincke, I mean). In a follow-up tweet, the Larian CEO noted that "there are plenty of people in publishing I met who have their hearts in the right place," and that his message was meant "for those who try to double their revenue year after year.

"You don't have to do that.  Build more slowly and make your aim improving the state of the art, not squeezing out the last drop." In a period that's seen around 16,000 developers lose their jobs at the hands of corporate decision makers, I have to say I like the sound of this alternate reality Vincke envisions. There's no human reason the people who make the games we love should live their whole lives at the point of a knife. "Respect the people making the games," wrote Vincke, "You'll find it brings you more joy."

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.