'Marketing's dead, and I can back this s**t up': Larian's publishing director says players 'just want to be spoken to, and they don't want to be bamboozled'

 Baldur's Gate 3 art with Michael Douse.
Baldur's Gate 3 art with Michael Douse.

During Baldur's Gate 3's trip around the award circuit winning every major GOTY trophy there is, the developers at Larian have taken some of their stage time to criticize corporate greed and mass layoffs. In the wake of its massively successful self-published game, Larian hasn't been shy about pointing the finger at what it sees changing—and going wrong—in the games industry. Larian publishing director Michael Douse brought that same energy to a recent PC Gamer roundtable interview, confidently stating "marketing is dead" in a discussion with other prominent game developers.

Warframe creative director Rebecca Ford kicked off the topic: "Actual players don't want to be marketed to," she said during our State of PC Gaming roundtable, recorded last month during the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Douse jumped in to agree enthusiastically.

"Marketing is dead," he said. "Marketing is dead. It truly is—I can back this shit up, man. There's no channels anymore—it doesn't work. You used to have marketing, communication, and PR. Marketing was essentially a retail theory—you were trying to get your box on the right point of the store shelf, and you have partnerships with retail stores. Those pipelines are gone. Now you've got the internet. Nobody is looking at ads anymore … all of the channels that we would usually market through are no longer really viable. So their function is also reduced by the fact that players just want to be spoken to. They don't want to be bamboozled—they just want to know what you're making and why you're making it and who it's for."

Eyrún Jónsdóttir, VP of publishing at EVE Online developer CCP, added that players also "want to have their part in it," as was the case with Baldur's Gate 3's long time in early access. EVE players are also known for being particularly vocal proponents of the game, which remains popular after 21 years online.

"From a very young age, when I saw an advertisement I was like, 'why isn't AdBlock blocking this?'" said Slay the Spire developer Casey Yano.

"Millennials always hated it, and now we have the tools to avoid it," said Douse. "The best place to market your game is on the store itself. Everything else isn't worth it. We learned that with BG3—it took us awhile."

Our 2024 State of PC Gaming roundtable touched on a range of other topics, from the influence of Slay the Spire to the current use of AI in games to the biggest trends in PC gaming over the past year.

You can check out the full conversation in the video above or audio embed below, or find PC Gamer Chat Log wherever you get your podcasts.