Game company Larian wins prize and expands activities to Canada


The Belgian games developer Larian has the wind in its sails. Shortly after they launched the fantasy game ‘Divinity:Original Sin’ on the popular gaming website Gamespot last summer, for which they won the prize for best PC game of the year, they announced their expansion into Canada.

‘Divinity: Original Sin’ is not a game that can be accessed by everyone: it is only played by a small and select group of gamers and can only be played on a PC. Nevertheless, the role-playing game, in which the player has to develop their character to confront more and more powerful foes, was a quick success. The American website Gamespot, one of the most popular video gaming review sites, named it the best PC game of 2014. On Metacritic, a site that groups together dozens of review scores and works out an average score, put the game at number five on the list of best PC games. This rating is shared with games such as ‘World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draeor’ and ‘Diablo III: Reaper of Souls’, and is higher than popular games like ‘Far Cry 4’, ‘Titanfall’ and ‘Dragon Age: Origins’. The game is also doing well commercially. At the beginning of September, the company broke even and since then every copy bought has been pure profit for Larian. They paid for the game themselves and therefore receive all the profits.

It provides the space needed to plan big projects, one of which is the opening of a second development subsidiary in Quebec City, where the company wants to recruit talented game designers, programmers and artists to launch new gaming projects. There are also more new games in the pipeline, says founder Swen Vincke. The Canadian province of Quebec offers many advantages to game companies, including a tax cut of more than 30 per cent for every person they employ. These incentives also ensure that lots of international game companies choose to set up shop in the province. “The large presence of game companies provides a pool of talent, from among which we want to attract new people,” says Vincke. “Our headquarters will remain in Ghent but this seemed like a logical step for expanding our company.”

Vincke founded Larian in 1996 and achieved his first success with ‘Divine Divinity’ in 2002. The game seemed so successful among the small group of role playing gamers, and the land of Rivellon that the makers had created as the game’s landscape seemed to resonate so strongly with gamers, that a smaller sequel called ‘Beyond Divinity’ was released in 2004. The studio then worked for five years on another epic ‘Divinity II: Ego Draconis’ which came out in 2009. In 2010, the company, which had previously conducted distribution and sales through a larger game company acting as distributor, decided that it was better off distributing its games itself. The increase in net profits was already considerable with ‘Divinity II: Flames of Vengeance’, a sort of ‘director’s cut’ from their previous game. In recent years, Larian has expanded its series even further with ‘Divinity: Dragon Commander’ and ‘Divinity: Original Sin’. The company has also created the online world KetnetKick for VRT (the Flemish public radio and television broadcaster) and has also developed a number of educational games.