Baldur's Gate 3 is tantalisingly close, or at least the Early Access version is. It's coming at the end of the month, and now we know how much cash will need to be slapped down if you want to take it for a spin early.
According to Larian director of publishing Michael Douse, Baldur's Gate 3 will be $60, making it Larian's priciest PC game. Divinity: Original Sin 2 was $60 on consoles, but on PC it launched at $45.
Douse revealed the price on Twitter, adding that people shouldn't "feel pressured to buy it during EA." As announced last month during the a livestream, the Early Access version will give you a 25-hour adventure that will take you to Faerun, Avernus and the Underdark. Drow and demons, what more could you want? That's just the first act, though, and the finished game will be, not surprisingly, quite a bit longer.
While this is a $15 increase over Larian's last game, Douse tells me that it reflects the size of the game and the team that designed it. Everything's bigger.
"DOS2 was finished with a much smaller team," he says. "Larian is over double the amount of people now, compared to when DOS2 launched. And BG3 is a bigger, deeper game with far higher production values. So not only did we increase depth, but we actually increased production values alongside it."
$60 for a new PC game is hardly uncommon, though in comparison to other Early Access games it is quite steep. Douse says he's seen very few complaints about paying $60 for a game that isn't finished yet, but he still worries about what he sees as a "perception problem" with Early Access. He argues that the $60 still nets Early Access players a full game when it's ready, and in the meantime the ability to play development builds and help shape the game adds additional value.
"It's better to think of Early Access as a playable preorder," he says. "Though of course it isn't exactly that. Its function is entirely to make the game better through pooling feedback and testing ideas, iterating directly with our audience."
Some Early Access players end up putting an ungodly number of hours into in-development games, submitting a litany of bug reports and feature requests. If players are doing QA, even if it's just because they're passionate about the game, there's an argument for that being reflected in a lower price or some other form of reciprocity.
While the price of Baldur's Gate 3 won't be reduced for Early Access, Douse notes some other ways that players can get value out of jumping in early.
"If people look back at the history of DOS2, there's a lot of reciprocity," he says. "We have transparent, consistent, intelligent conversations with our players. I think [they] feel listened to when our games are great value, with a huge amount of content, and we often come up with surprises that are more tangible. We don't have such plans for this yet (indeed during DOS2 at this stage we didn't either), but we did the Gift Bag DLCs, Definitive Edition update, etc. Huge investments, released for free. No promises on mirroring that, but I raise it to make the point that there are many other ways to cater to the audience outside of simply discounting at launch."
The Gift Bag DLCs, the latest of which appeared in June, have been given out to everyone, not just people who played during Early Access, but it still means that they've received a lot more than they paid for, even three years after launch.
"There are good ways and bad ways to do Early Access, but I do think we're doing it the right way," Douse says. "The point is we support our players long into EA, long after launch, long into the game's life-span. DOS2's final Gift Bag wasn't very long ago, and it's still getting updates. So I feel pretty strongly that not only is the value there at day one of Early Access, but the value of your $60 exponentially increases year on year in extraordinary ways. This was proven with DOS2, and BG3 is a new start of a similar journey from the same people."
I always feel a little bit strange embarking on an adventure in an Early Access RPG, because I know I'll never actually finish it. I'll hit the end of the Early Access version but have to wait months or years to start all over again. Of course, I'm willing to go through this terrible ordeal for Baldur's Gate 3. I mean, c'mon, Baldur's Gate 3. I've got to get my hands on it.
Regional prices have yet to be announced, but they'll be covered in an upcoming update ahead of the Early Access launch on September 30.