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Neil Newbon on the impact of Larian Studios and Baldur’s Gate 3

Neil Newbon on the impact of Larian Studios and Baldur’s Gate 3

In part 2 of our interview with Neil Newbon, we talk about the state of the video game industry and the impact of Baldur's Gate 3

In part two of my interview with Neil Newbon, we explore the success of Baldur’s Gate 3, the impact of Larian Studios on his career, the current state of the video game industry, and his love for Helldivers 2.

Larian Studios recently celebrated success at the BAFTA Games Awards earlier this year following an epic night at The Game Awards 2023.

Check out the Baldur's Gate 3 trailer below!

“Larian Studios has made gaming history. I believe Baldur’s Gate 3 is the first game to get all five major Game of the Year Awards, which is pretty extraordinary,” Neil tells me. “I'm biased, but I'm also a gamer and more subjective about games. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a masterpiece. It's one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had as a gamer and one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had as an actor.

“It's been an incredible experience of so many people collaborating, and working with an amazing studio that puts people first before anything. It’s a very beautiful company to work for, from start to finish for four and a half years. Somebody asked me whether or not if we had to restart the whole thing again, how would I feel and I'd be like, not a problem. I could do another four years. It was that great.”

Despite Larian’s success and the truck-load of critically acclaimed video games that have launched over the last few years, it is a concerning and frustrating time for the entire industry, with new studio closures and mass layoffs seemingly coming every week.

Larian Studios
Larian Studios

“I think the whole world has gone through this bizarre zeitgeist of ultra-capitalism. We seem to have lost something along the way, it's now okay for us to have billionaires in the world and now we're going to see our first trillionaire,” Neil says.

“Surely, that means there's a problem. If somebody can accumulate that much personal wealth or personal value, and people are having such an incredibly hard time across all industries, then we're doing something wrong as a species,”

“We're no longer that kind of positive collective community if we ever were that positive collected community to look out for each other. I think we're at a stage now where we can definitely choose to help each other. I mean, how much money does one person need?” he continues. “I think Larian Studios is a fantastic example of a company that went, ‘You know what, it's gonna cost us more money to relocate some of our staff during a crisis, but we're going to do it because we care about these people’.

“It's great to see a major, genre-defining game, with a company that has that ethos, as opposed to everything having to be squeezing as much money out of the players as possible to make the profits for shareholders that won't budge on their profits. You don't need to lay these people off if you're making so much money, you're getting this huge excess. Why are you laying people off? I don't get it. Shareholders should take less money.

Baldur's Gate 3 (Astarion)/
Larian Studios

“Invest in the people and support them. Then not only will they work with more passion, but also harder because you're looking after them,” he explained. “They'll also bring better skills as they develop with each game iteration, each cycle. It seems mad, doesn't it? When you say out loud.”

Recently, Larian Studios announced that it will be moving away from Baldur’s Gate 3, meaning no DLC or sequels. It’s a bold move, but one Neil is in favour of.

“I’m in total support of that decision. If their heart's not in something, and they're choosing not to do it because they don't have the passion for something beyond what they've already created with great passion, I think it's very smart,” he says simply.

“I'm now thinking about what they are going to do next, as a fan and a professional. It’s really exciting. All the information, all the talent, all the skills they learned from doing Baldur’s Gate 3, they're going to take that into the next game. That's really exciting. I also think it's great that people are honest about it, as opposed to making another game that maybe wouldn't be as good because their hearts weren't really sold on it. Now, somebody else could make the next game with the same passion that Larian had for Baldur’s Gate 3.”

Helldivers 2/
Sony Interactive Entertainment

When not working, Neil loves to play Helldivers 2 in his spare time and is a game that he shares that experience with his followers on his YouTube channel. Neil was keen to share his love for Helldivers 2 and the similarities that its developer, Arrowhead Game Studios has with Larian Studios.

“Oh, man, Helldivers 2 is a beautiful game. It’s a great game. I think it's a game with potential for Game of the Year. One of the things I like about the developers is the way that they look after the community. Yeah, it has microtransactions in it, but it's purely cosmetic and they give you a lot of stuff for free by playing the game,” he explained.

“You grind a little for requisition slips but they're giving you that in-game. I think that's cool because then people will want to spend money on cosmetic items because they like it, not because they're forced to. I think it's a good example of how microtransactions and DLC can exist. Just do it in a way that it's an option for people. If they want to buy DLC to support the game and the developer, they'll do it. I think it's an important statement.”

He continues: “There are lots of games out there that are very much pay-to-play. Games like that are not there to move people with a story. They are made to be fun but ultimately it’s to make money and that’s fine. It's a free market. For me, it’s not my cup of tea. I’m very much about player experience, especially from a narrative point of view. So I think it's great that these great games [such as Baldur’s Gate 3 and Helldivers 2] are coming through that are championing what’s important for the player.”

Head here to read part one of my interview with Neil Newbon where he talks about lessons learned breaking into the industry and preparing for a major role in Capcom’s Resident Evil.

Featured Image Credit: Larian Studios/Neil Newbon (via Shinehouse Group PR)

Topics: Baldur's Gate 3, Interview, PC, PlayStation, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Sony, Xbox, Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Features