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There's a candid new interview with Swen Vincke up at GamesIndustry.biz, where the Larian Studios CEO talks about the struggles they have had in the past with properly funding the development of their titles, the success of Divinity: Original Sin, what we can expect from their future development plans, and more. It's great to see these guys finally in a place where it's not make-or-break for at least awhile:
Swen Vincke, CEO of the Belgian developer Larian Studios, has shouldered that burden before, but this year has been markedly, refreshingly different. "It's the first time I've actually been relaxed. Actually, I've never been so relaxed at GDC. Normally I'd be fighting to be able to earn extra budget to be able to continue our game productions. Now, we're more confident. That's a nice feeling."
The reason for that turnaround is Divinity: Original Sin, the latest game in a series that Larian first started working on in 1999, and by far the most successful. Indeed, that success encapsulates a great many of the defining trends of this precise moment in the industry's inexorable push forward: a combination of fresh ideas and classic style, made possible by money raised through crowdfunding and Early Access, and published independently to digital platforms.
That last point is crucial. Divinity Original Sin was a big hit on Steam, selling 500,000 units in two months, and with a noticable absence of the steep discounting that so many games use to boost their sales. The big difference this time, though, was the size of Larian's cut. For years GDC was about connecting with and securing finance from publishers. Without one in the picture, Larian saw its best return on investment in almost 20 years as an independent developer.
"It was beyond expectations, yes, but it was actually what I've been working towards all this time," Vincke says. "I've been doing this since 2002, when Divine Divinity was released, and those games always sold well. Our problem was that we were never able to get access to the revenue from them. This one sold better than any of the previous ones and we got all of the revenue."