Baldur's Gate III is arguably the game of the summer, and it isn't even out on consoles yet. Developer Larian Studios has taken a "it'll be out when it's ready" approach to releasing the game on various platforms. After becoming an instant hit on Windows when it came out of early access earlier this month, Baldur's Gate III will land on PlayStation 5 and macOS on September 6th. The exact Xbox release date is still unclear, but Larian has finally confirmed the massive RPG will come to Microsoft's consoles later this year.
The main reason that Larian delayed the Xbox release (and thus making Baldur's Gate III a PlayStation console exclusive for a limited time) was due to Microsoft's rules about games having feature parity on Series S and Series X. The latter is the more powerful of the two consoles and tends to deliver visuals with higher fidelity and framerates, as well as ray-tracing.
“We have no exclusivity deal that prevents us from launching on Xbox,” Michael Douse, director of publishing at Larian Studios, wrote on X (formerly known as Twitter) last month. “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.”
All improvements will be there, with split-screen coop on Series X. Series S will not feature split-screen coop, but will also include cross-save progression between Steam and Xbox Series.
— Swen Vincke @where? (@LarAtLarian) August 24, 2023
Larian CEO and Baldur's Gate III director Swen Vincke said that after meeting Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer at Gamescom, "we've found a solution that allows us to bring Baldur’s Gate 3 to Xbox players this year still, something we’ve been working towards for quite some time." Vincke implied that Spencer granted Larian an exception to having feature parity between the Series S and Series X. On the less-powerful system, Baldur's Gate III will not have the split-screen mode, but the Series X will support that feature. Cross-save progression between Steam and the two consoles will be supported too.
Some third-party developers have claimed that the Series S is holding them back when it comes to delivering state-of-the-art gaming experiences. There have been suggestions that studios making multi-platform games have to make tradeoffs when it comes to the Series S, such as not being able to offer 60 frames per second gameplay on the console. Now that Larian has obtained an exception to drop split-screen co-op from Baldur's Gate III only on the Series S, other studios might press Xbox to let them omit some features on that console too.