Starfield director says Xbox exclusivity created pressure to make a “system seller”


Bethesda is polishing up Starfield, their next flagship RPG – and game director Todd Howard is hyping the game up as a “system seller.”

Ever since Microsoft acquired Bethesda and all its internal studios, they’ve started making some games, including Starfield, exclusive to Xbox consoles – alongside a PC release. Howard said this is definitely mounting the pressure on their game succeeding.

“We’ve had a lot of success with the games that you talked about but we’ve never been kind of the platform seller, you know ‘the game’ for a platform for a period of time,” Howard said on Lex Fridman’s podcast. “And so, there is a lot of pressure, there’s a lot of responsibility there to make sure we deliver for everybody.”

When asked about how the Microsoft buyout affected the studio – and notably its controversial switch to being console-exclusive to Xbox, Howard shrugged it off while noting they’ve always had Xbox as their lead console platform.

“For us that exclusivity is not unique,” Howard said. “Even though we’ve done PlayStation stuff, I think the PS5 is an insane machine. We were traditionally PC developers from the beginning, we transitioned to Xbox, it became our lead platform. Morrowind is basically exclusive to Xbox, Oblivion was exclusive to Xbox for a long period of time, Skyrim DLC..”

He added, “Our initial development was all Xbox, we get into development and say we’re focused on Xbox – it’s not abnormal for us in any way. It’s been kind of the norm. From a development side, I like the ability to focus. So our ability to focus and have help from them, the top engineers from Xbox saying ‘we’re going to make this look incredible’ on the new systems, from my standpoint is just awesome.”

Lastly, Howard and Fridman naturally discussed the unfortunate delay for Starfield, pushing it into 2023. He told Fridman the decision to delay the game was tough, but it “was the right thing to do.”

In case you missed it – the first block of gameplay for their open-world space RPG can be viewed here in our previous report.

Starfield is planned for release in 2023 on both PC and Xbox Series X|S.

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