Today, Bethesda announced that it is delaying both Arkane Austin’s Redfall and Bethesda Game Studios’ highly anticipated Starfield. As to why, Bethesda made it simple: Both teams need more time to make games the best they can be. And although my first reaction was sadness – like many, I was very excited to experience both this year – I feel a little relief.
No, I’m not going to mention that Shigeru Miyamoto quote here, because I’m sure you’ve heard it many times (it’s true, though!), but I will say that this delay means a lot to Bethesda. In fact, I think Bethesda’s Starfield delay is key to its next-gen success.
Fast forward to 2011. Bethesda Game Studios released Skyrim, by far their most popular game and arguably their best RPG, on November 11, 2011. It got a 9.5 out of 10 from us and it received many other scores similar highs, with some selling points giving the game a 10 out of 10. Since then, it feels a bit like BGS is continuing that success and critical acclaim. According to whoever you ask, BGS hasn’t been as successful as Skyrim since its release, as perhaps evidenced by the studio’s multiple Skyrim re-releases. However, many saw Starfield as its spiritual successor.
It’s the first new BGS game of its kind since Skyrim (and it’s a new IP to boot), and in the same vein as Skyrim, Starfield seems to be all about exploring a vast new world and from creating your own stories within it, all while running through what is hopefully one big main campaign. Speaking of which, Starfield’s original release date was November 11, 2022. Skyrim hit stores on November 11, 2011, and clearly BGS was coming back to it with Starfield’s original release date of November 11, 2022 (either 11 years later).
Since the release of Skyrim, BGS has released the following:
In my opinion, none of these compare to Skryim, some that I consider to be step backs for the studio or at least side steps that BGS shouldn’t have taken (looking at you, Fallout 76) . I don’t think I’m alone in my thoughts either, and that’s why Starfield has always felt like a bit of a show-stopper for the studio. It’s not a watershed moment for the studio’s livelihood — Xbox’s acquisition of Bethesda secured that future — but it’s a watershed moment for me in my excitement for this studio’s release. Does this studio still have the chops?
Of course, Skyrim was exemplary in the open world space, and to some extent it still is today. But since its release, dozens of studios have launched their own open-world RPGs that give BGS a run for its money. There’s Guerilla Games’ Horizon series, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series, Rockstar Game’s Red Dead Redemption II, and more recently, From Software’s Elden Ring. I’m not here to argue if any of them are better than Skyrim, but the open-world RPG space looks a lot more varied and different today than it did when Skyrim came out on consoles. and PC in 2011. Basically I wonder if Starfield, whatever it ends up being since we still have no idea other than some weird behind-the-scenes looks, will offer something unique or particularly awesome that I don’t already get anywhere else in a genre that’s exploded over the past decade.
All of which brings me to today’s delay and why I believe this is a critical milestone for the success of the next generation of BGS. Starfield can’t come out as anything less than its best. We’ve all seen what happened with Cyberpunk 2077. It should have been delayed – I’d say its last-gen versions probably should have been cancelled, to be honest – but it wasn’t, and the results were clear and crisp. Players weren’t happy, and while the game was still selling quite well, it wasn’t selling as much as we’d all guess before its buggy and controversial release. The last thing Bethesda needs is a Cyberpunk 2077 situation on its hands with Starfield, especially with the high expectations for this new sci-fi RPG, which Bethesda calls a Han Solo simulator.
That’s why this delay is so important, sad as it is: it’s proof that BGS recognizes how crucial Starfield’s success is. You might be wondering, “But Wesley, hasn’t Cyberpunk 2077 been delayed multiple times?” Yes, but the Starfield delay means a lot more, in my opinion, especially coupled with the Redfall delay.
For one, Starfield is no longer releasing on what would have been an iconic release date. Second, and perhaps more importantly, with Starfield and Redfall delayed to the first half of 2023, Xbox is left dry in 2022. What great first-party release does Xbox have coming in the second half of this year? ? Of course, there’s always time to announce something to fill that void, but as things stand, the answer is nothing. The Starfield-sized hole is a big deal for Xbox, but the fact that Microsoft apparently gave BGS the blessing to delay Starfield means it matters. Does this mean Microsoft recognizes how important it is for Starfield to succeed, or why allow such a huge hole in Xbox’s release schedule to open?
This delay means the studio can take the extra time it needs to ensure Starfield is what it, Xbox, and most importantly, gamers want it to be: a successful first foray into this next generation for BGS. .
Am I on the money or do you think I’ve got it all wrong? How important do you think Starfield is to Bethesda Game Studios? Let me know in the comments below!