Baldur’s Gate 3 Proves Games Don’t Need Microtransactions to Succeed

  • Baldur’s Gate 3 made more than $650 million on Steam last year.
  • Baldur’s Gate 3 outsold the runner-up — Hogwarts Legacy — by more than double.
  • Games that don’t rely on microtransactions, in fact, dominated the bestsellers list for 2023.

Baldur’s Gate 3 smashed expectations, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars last year, proving that not all top-selling games have to have a battle pass.

Baldur’s Gate 3 has enjoyed huge popularity and critical acclaim since its release in August last year, nearly sweeping The Game Awards.

Players have spent insane amounts of time playing the game — collectively more than 8,000 years on the character customization screen alone. Larian Studios previously estimated that beating the game should take about 75 to 100 hours on average.

The game earned $657 million in 2023 from sales on Steam, a popular online games store, according to VG Insights, which tracks Steam revenue.

Baldur’s Gate 3 was the top-selling game on the platform, outselling its closest competitor — Hogwarts Legacy — by $316 million, according to the report.

One of the top trends last year among the top-selling games on Steam was a “lack of microtransactions.” Microtransactions are in-game purchases that the player can make using real money, typically giving the player some kind of superficial benefit like a new outfit or hairstyle. Games generating the most revenue in 2023 instead focused on creativity and largely came from smaller developers.

The share of games with microtransactions that sold more than one million copies dropped from 33% in 2022 to 25% in 2023, the report said, adding that many top games tended to be “more high-quality premium games.”

That trend is surprising since microtransactions have dominated the industry since at least 2017 when games like Fortnite burst onto the scene using a free-to-play model that encourages players to spend real money on in-game microtransactions.

Fortnite revolutionized microtransactions by introducing the Battle Pass, a system that gives players a “two-tiered, multi-leveled reward system” that must be repurchased every few months, according to Comic Book Resources. Since Fortnite’s release, most multiplayer games have included some iteration of a battle pass, according to the outlet.

In 2019, the North Carolina Better Business Bureau gave Epic Games, the studio that creates Fortnite, an F after fielding hundreds of complaints about its in-game purchases.

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