Baldur’s Gate III might not release on Xbox platforms until 2024. That’s according to Michael Douse, Director of Publishing at Larian Studios, who tweeted out some issues on the platform, adding that the lack of a release date isn’t due to some exclusivity deal. BG3’s PC version is coming August 3, followed by a PS5 version on September 6, though there haven’t been any updates for the Xbox Series S/X release. He attributes technical limitations to the lower-end Xbox Series S consoles, on which the studio is having trouble getting split-screen co-op working properly.
“The issue is a technical hurdle. We cannot remove the split-screen feature because we are obliged to launch with feature parity, and so continue to try and make it work,” Douse said in a follow-up tweet, addressing why Larian can’t just discard the functionality on the Xbox Series S. Microsoft’s lower-end console has been at the centre of debate lately, with some claiming that it’s limiting next-gen gaming with 30fps — albeit that’s the trade-off you make when you get a lower-cost system. However, in Baldur’s Gate 3’s case, the console seems to be compromising its release on the entire current-gen Xbox ecosystem — both Series S and Series X — by delaying its release until the team gets past the challenge of including the split-screen co-op feature.
Far from being exclusive, we have no exclusivity deal that prevents us from launching on Xbox. The issue is a technical hurdle. We cannot remove the split-screen feature because we are obliged to launch with feature parity, and so continue to try and make it work.
— Very AFK (@Cromwelp) July 31, 2023
While fans are going to be impatient that owners of a PC or PS5 will get to play Baldur’s Gate 3 much earlier than them, Larian Studios CEO Swen Vincke confirmed in an interview that parity of features between both Xbox consoles is “a must” for them, regardless of what Microsoft desires. He added that the team has been working hard on including the split-screen feature, but it will take some time considering how vast the game is. Not to mention, the several rounds of optimisation it needs to get through. He added that Baldur’s Gate 3 runs perfectly fine if you just have one character roaming the city, but when the co-op party splits into different directions, engaging in separate questa and combat, that’s a lot of activity on-screen at the same time — when playing on split-screen mode. “…that’s taxing. That requires memory,” Vincke said, at the time. For comparison, the Xbox Series X comes with 16 GB of RAM, while the Series S stands at 10GB.
The team is also committed to bringing seamless drop-in and drop-out co-op feature on the Xbox Series S, which is a feat no other RPG of its scale has accomplished. Baldur’s Gate 3 already made headlines this year for having cinematics that run for over 174 hours and diverse romance options including one with a brown bear, that shot up its spot on Steam’s best sellers list. More recently, however, developer Larian confirmed that players would not be allowed to preload the massive game, which weighs in at around 122GB on PC. Even those who’ve been playing it in early access will have to re-download the entire game. “Please note that your Early Access save games will not be compatible at launch; however, so much has changed that it’s really worth it to start afresh,” Larian Studios addressed in a Steam blog post.