Swen Vincke on layoffs and publishers who only care about quarterly profits: "Respect the people making the games"

Swen Vincke has criticized executives who lay off devs and act from a position of greed, caring only about their revenues and profits. Speaking at the Game Developers Choice Awards, the Larian Studios head noted that this vicious cycle needs to be broken.

Larian head Swen Vincke addresses mass layoffs, urging publishers to care about devs instead of quarterly profits

Swen Vincke at the Game Developers Choice Awards (Image credit: GDC)

As first reported by Eurogamer, Vincke addressed the issue while accepting the Best Narrative award on stage at the GDCA. He was one of several developers to criticize companies that have made job cuts over the past months.

The Larian head talked about “stopping the greed, which has been f**king this whole thing up for so long.” Vincke was specifically referring to people at the top of companies who only chase numbers in their quarterly reports instead of caring about the people putting their hearts and souls into making the games.

I've been fighting publishers my entire life and I keep on seeing the same, same, same mistakes over, and over and over. It's always the quarterly profits. The only thing that matters are the numbers, and then you fire everybody and then next year you say 's**t I'm out of developers' and then you start hiring people again, and then you do acquisitions, and then you put them in the same loop again, and it's just broken.

Swen Vincke

founder of Larian Studios

“You don’t have to,” Vincke continued, saying that companies instead can make reserves and “just slow down a little bit.” He emphasized the importance of taking care of developers: “Don’t lose the institutional knowledge that’s been built up in the people you lose every single time, so you have to go through the same cycle over and over and over. It really pisses me off.”

Vincke then took to X to clarify that he knows many people in the games publishing business who “have their hearts in the right place,” and his message was for those who try to double their revenue with each year. “Build more slowly and make your aim improving the state of the art, not squeezing out the last drop,” he said.” And respect the people making the games. You’ll find it brings you more joy.”

According to the Game Industry Layoffs project, over 10,000 games industry professionals lost their jobs last year. In the first two and a half months of 2024, companies laid off over 8,000 people, including mass job cuts at Microsoft (1,900 employees), Riot Games (530), Unity (1,800), Sony Interactive Entertainment (900), and Electronic Arts (670).

In more positive news, Vincke also thanked the entire Larian team for making Baldur’s Gate a reality. He noted that the narrative in this game was a really complex effort and a collaboration between the developers from writers and cinematic artists to scriptors and testers, and players who provided the team with feedback throughout the process.

Baldur’s Gate 3 took home four awards at the 2024 GDCA, including Best Design, Audience Award, and Game of the Year.

Among the winners in other categories were The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdoms, Alan Wake 2, Hi-Fi Rush, and Venba. The latter also won the Grand Prize at the 26th Independent Games Festival Awards, with other winners including Phonopolis, Cryptmaster, Rhytm Doctor, and RAM: Random Access Mayhem.

Speaking at the GDC panel on March 21, Swen Vincke confirmed that Larian won’t be making any expansions or DLC for Baldur’s Gate 3. The studio also plans to move away from the D&D brand and create something new. “That’s not for us,” he said.

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