The release of Baldur’s Gate III is underway — to an extent. While the game is fully developed, its launch is happening in stages, with separate release dates planned for different platforms. After an extended Early Access phase, the PC and Mac versions of Baldur’s Gate III became available on August 3, whereas the PlayStation 5 edition is scheduled for release on September 6. Yet, Larian Studios, the game’s developer, has not announced a launch date for the Xbox Series X and S versions.
Such a scenario isn’t entirely unheard of, as it’s commonplace for games to be released on different platforms at varying times, driven by factors such as exclusivity contracts, licensing, or developer preference. However, with Baldur’s Gate III, the Xbox version has run into a specific issue.
Michael Douse, Director of Publishing at Larian Studios, stated on X in July, “There’s no exclusivity contract preventing us from launching on Xbox. The problem lies with a technical challenge. We are obligated to launch with feature parity, which includes the split-screen feature, which we are still trying to perfect.”
Larian Studios is struggling to adapt Baldur’s Gate III to the Xbox Series S, Microsoft’s less costly and less potent ninth-generation console. Microsoft’s stipulation that games must run without alterations in mechanics or quality on both the Xbox Series X and Series S has unintentionally made Baldur’s Gate III a PS5 exclusive for at least four months.
Douse mentioned, “A sizable team of engineers are striving to accomplish something unprecedented for an RPG of this magnitude: flawless drop-in, drop-out co-op on Series S. We aim to have an update by year-end.”
Baldur’s Gate III, a keenly awaited role-playing game set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, is the first primary installment in the series in over 20 years. It features renowned classes and abilities set in a broad high-fantasy realm. The PC version reviews have started pouring in, and they look promising overall.
While PS5 players will have access to the console version on September 6, Xbox Series X/S players will have to wait. The parity requirements from Microsoft, which have been in place since the Xbox Series consoles were launched in November 2020, have caused Baldur’s Gate III to be the most high-profile game directly impacted by these restrictions.
The issue with Larian Studios likely stems from RAM. Both the Xbox Series X and PS5 have 16GB RAM, but the Series S has only 10GB, running at a slower speed than its counterparts. This difference substantially reduces its total memory bandwidth. Although graphics can be scaled down, recoding a game is much more challenging. These parity requirements could potentially limit the availability, scope, and quality of games on the Xbox Series X.
This discussion came into prominence last year, with players questioning if the Series S was stalling the overall progress of the ninth console generation. While evidence was sparse, some indie and AAA developers publicly expressed their frustrations over the parity rule.
For instance, Ian Maclure, a VFX artist at Bossa Studios, shared that many developers were seeking to loosen Series S launch requirements. Lee Devonald, a senior character technical artist at Rocksteady, also talked about his experience working on Gotham Knights, which had to be optimized for the “lowest performer” – the Xbox Series S.
In the Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft has shifted its focus from the conventional console-upgrade cycle towards a broader gaming ecosystem, prioritizing cloud play in a post-hardware future. On the other hand, Sony has stuck with the traditional approach for the PS5, which boasts more power, quicker loading times, superior graphics, and smoother animations than its predecessor, the PS4. Sony’s strategy appears to be paying off, as it leads in console sales with over 40 million PS5s globally, compared to Xbox’s 21 million players on Xbox Series X and Series S consoles.
Whether the Series S is indeed limiting the entire gaming industry is still debatable, but it’s clear that the Xbox parity requirements are stalling the release of Baldur’s Gate III, inadvertently turning it into a temporary PS5 exclusive.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Baldur’s Gate III PS5 exclusive
Why is Baldur’s Gate III being released as a PS5 console exclusive?
Due to technical difficulties in adapting Baldur’s Gate III to the less powerful Xbox Series S, the game’s release on Xbox has been delayed. As such, the game has unintentionally become a temporary PS5 exclusive.
What is the issue preventing Baldur’s Gate III from being released on Xbox Series X and S?
The primary challenge lies in fitting Baldur’s Gate III onto the Xbox Series S, which is a less powerful version of Microsoft’s ninth-generation console lineup. The game is obliged to launch with feature parity, including a split-screen feature that is causing technical problems on this platform.
How long will Baldur’s Gate III remain exclusive to PS5?
Baldur’s Gate III is expected to be a PS5 exclusive for at least four months due to the Xbox parity requirements and the technical issues that the developers are facing.
Are there any plans to release Baldur’s Gate III on Xbox Series X and S?
Yes, the developer, Larian Studios, is working to overcome the technical challenges and intends to release Baldur’s Gate III on Xbox Series X and S. However, a definitive release date has not yet been announced.
What is the reaction of the gaming industry to the Xbox parity requirements?
The Xbox parity requirements have caused a debate in the gaming industry, with some developers voicing frustration, arguing that the Xbox Series S’ lower specifications are holding back the development and quality of games on the more powerful Xbox Series X.