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Not everyone can make a Baldur’s Gate 3, Owlcat founder says

When it comes to developing RPGs, Owlcat Games' founder and CEO says that if it's in the wrong hands, more money can mean more problems.

A Baldur's Gate 3 character clutching magic.

In the leadup to the launch of Baldur’s Gate 3, a frequent point of discussion was whether it would represent a new standard for RPGs. Now, Owlcat Games’ founder and CEO has discussed its impact, and given a nuanced perspective on the massive amounts of money required to bring complex games to life.

Oleg Shpilchevskiy is the founder and CEO of Owlcat Games, the studio behind RPG games like Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous and, most recently, Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader. While the studio’s games all fall into the same CRPG genre that Baldur’s Gate 3 does, Shpilchevskiey says they’re the product of a very different business model, one that isn’t necessarily right for the $200 million budget of Baldur’s Gate 3.

“To make a $50 million game, you need — I’m exaggerating here — 300-400 people, and they have to work in unison and not waste money, but make sure all the pieces come together in the end. This is not trivial at all, let’s put it this way,” Shpilchevskiy said during an appearance on the Russian-language podcast Pilim, Trem (and translated by Game World Observer).

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Owlcat itself has had to adapt as its projects have grown in scale. Its current project involves a team of 150 developers, a major organizational expansion from the team of 30 that released Pathfinder: Kingmaker in 2018. Coordination becomes far more difficult and demanding as the number of people increases, increasing the risk for wasted time and, crucially, money.

Shpilchevsky reckons that many double-A studios should continue working with double-A budgets, but cautions that certain quality standards have been raised in the post-Baldur’s Gate 3 world. Expensive features like full voiceover, for example, are becoming table stakes.

“Looking at BG3, you understand: it is becoming a must-have feature, which doesn’t guarantee you success, but if you don’t meet that bar, your game is considered one that no longer fits into the right category,” he said. “So it looks like we will have to do a full voiceover for our next games.”

Here’s our list of the best games like Baldur’s Gate 3 if you want to get a sense of the field, and we’ve also assembled a list of the best Baldur’s Gate 3 mods if you want to tweak the experience a little – or a lot.

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