Larian Studios Criticizes Industry Focus on Shareholders at DICE Awards

Larian Studios were direct with their thoughts on prioritizing shareholders over the games and staff.
Baldurs Gate 3 Old Man And Mage Walking Spells
Image: Larian Studios

Larian Studios, the developer behind the critically acclaimed RPG Baldur’s Gate 3, used their recent win at the DICE Awards to voice concerns about the games industry’s treatment of workers. Despite securing awards like Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Story, the studio’s representatives dedicated significant stage time to criticizing industry practices. Those practices, we know, are laying off staff just to appear more profitable for shareholders.

Michael Douse, Larian’s Publishing Director, acknowledged the studio’s fortunate position while highlighting many developers’ struggles. Larian doesn’t have shareholders to appease. I’ve seen it said that they technically do since Tencent owns 30% of the studio, but that is a misunderstanding. Larian is a private company, and appeasing a minor owner is not the same (at all) as appeasing shareholders in a public company.

In a public company, your value (and how much you have to spend) is based on the perception of those who buy your stock (think GameStop). In a private company, your value is how much money you have and earn. So, while playing nice with Tencent is in their best interest, they do not have to. PC Gamer has a great example of why the Tencent issue is not the same reasoning for those still not convinced. For more on public companies, check out our report on how public company Embracer Group is hurting their staff for the sake of shareholders.

“We ask you to pay one price only for the game, and that’s it—you can own it for the rest of your life. We don’t have shareholders, but we also don’t think about them. There’s an expression in Dutch—’honesty lasts longest’, or something.”

David Walgrave

During the speech, Douse said the extensive layoffs witnessed in 2023 resulted in an estimated 16,000 industry professionals losing their jobs since January. Douse emphasized the value and talent of developers, urging them not to be discouraged by the challenging climate. It’s very hard for a public company to put staff ahead of shareholder interests, but we’re hoping we’ll soon see the end of layoffs and canceled games.

Jorge A. Aguilar

Jorge A. Aguilar

Jorge A. Aguilar, also known as Aggy, is the current Assigning Editor.

He started his career as an esports, influencer, and streaming writer for Sportskeeda. He then moved to GFinity Esports to cover streaming, games, guides, and news before moving to the Social team where he ended his time as the Lead of Social Content.

He also worked a writer and editor for both Pro Game Guides and Dot Esports, and as a writer for PC Invasion, Attack of the Fanboy, and Android Police. Aggy is the former Managing Editor and Operations Overseer of N4G Unlocked and a former Gaming editor for WePC.

Throughout his time in the industry, he's trained over 100 writers, written thousands of articles on multiple sites, written more reviews than he cares to count, and edited tens of thousands of articles. He has also written some games published by Tales, some books, and a comic sold to Telus International.

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