Larian's boss worried Baldur's Gate 3 had peaked in early access, so its massive 800K concurrent player launch was 'way, way beyond' expectations

Swen Vincke
Larian's Swen Vincke early in development of Baldur's Gate 3 (Image credit: Larian Studios)

On Saturday, Larian founder Swen Vincke watched Baldur's Gate 3's concurrent player count on Steam break 800,000, earning it a spot among Steam's all-time most-played games. His reaction? 

"God, I hope there's no big bug left," he told me with a laugh Monday morning.

Vincke said that he "held his heart" during the launch, hoping that millions of players didn't run into a progress-blocking bug of some kind. "I don't want to have that anger over me, but it's part of the risk of making these very large RPGs," he said.

On Friday, approximately 24 hours after Baldur's Gate 3 launched on PC, Baldur's Gate 3 had already passed 500,000 concurrent players; at the time, Vincke tweeted that he had informed the IT team managing Larian's account login servers to expect something like 100,000 players max. Their last game, Divinity: Original Sin 2, had peaked at just over 90,000 concurrent players.

"This was not in the books at all. 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. At the same time, a lot of focus. 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."

Thanks to bug fixing tools they've built for the game, Vincke said Larian's able to quickly determine what went wrong when players report issues. And luckily being off in his player estimate by half a million people or so didn't cause any catastrophes—just a bit of scrambling to make sure the servers stayed online.

Vincke did have one other worry in the lead-up to Baldur's Gate 3's launch: that its early access success (to the tune of 2.5 million copies) would translate to a muted full release. 

"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 said. "That was my biggest fear, that that had happened. 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 it turned out, plenty of people are more than game for Dungeons & Dragons stuff. Baldur's Gate 3 is currently the best-selling game on Steam by revenue, and has also seen a big jump in pre-orders on PlayStation, where it's launching in early September.


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I asked Vincke if this degree of success, beyond their wildest expectations, changed his plans for Larian's future, but he said no.

"I don't think it changes a lot. We are on the road that we wanted to be on. It's a little bit slower than we expected, because the events of the last couple years have slowed down development for everybody, but this is what we want to do: Make these multiplayer systems-driven RPGs and bring them to you in an immersive manner, which means bringing them to you in a cinematic way. [With Baldur's Gate 3] we took the next step on that road and we'll continue building on that. That's what we want to do."

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).