Larian publishing director says "marketing's dead" because players don't want to be "bamboozled," and "we learned that with Baldur's Gate 3"

Baldur's Gate 3 Shadowheart Cleric in camp
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

Larian publishing director Michael Douse reckons video game marketing is a thing of the past."

Douse sat down with PC Gamer and other developers as part of a broad conversation about the industry at GDC, and when Warframe creative director Rebecca Ford opined, "actual players don't want to be marketed to," Douse launched into a lengthy response in agreement.

"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."

Slay the Spire developer Casey Yano reflected on the natural human behavior that is avoiding ads like the plague. "From a very young age, when I saw an advertisement I was like, 'why isn't AdBlock blocking this?'" said 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."

Douse is right to say he can "back up" his claim that video game marketing isn't as crucial as it once was, as Baldur's Gate 3 was released with very little promoting from Larian and became on of the biggest games of 2023. Meanwhile, The Rogue Prince of Persia developer Evil Empire is taking a page from Larian's book, with marketing manager Matt Houghton recently saying, "even Baldur's Gate 3 became so good because of Early Access."

After 700 hours in Baldur's Gate 3, GR's Heather Wald is playing Dragon's Dogma 2 with Astarion at her side.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.