What you need to know
Bloomberg interviewed Todd Howard and Phil Spencer about Starfield and asked some interesting community questions around optimization on PC, exclusivity, and the absence of land vehicles in the game.
Howard was quick to cut off questions about PC optimization, saying the game is perfectly optimized for PC and that if it doesn't run well this could be the sign you need to upgrade.
The absence of land vehicles in the game are a design choice, and they want players to focus on the 'on-foot' experience of planetary exploration.
The Microsoft and Activision acquisition was addressed and both Spencer and Howard expressed confidence in Xbox cooperation with regulators.
Starfield has taken to the stars, topping 1 million concurrent players on its official launch into Game Pass across console and PC. The majority of fans are blown away by Bethesda's first new IP in 25 years, but that doesn't mean there haven't been some grumbles. Namely some have issues running the game on their rig, and others wonder why there are no vehicles to make planetary traversal less laborious. Bethesda's Todd Howard and Microsoft's Phil Spencer went on Bloomberg Technology to answer some quick community questions and had some interesting answers.
Why did you not optimize this game for PC?
Howard's reply to this was quick and to the point, simply stating, "we did." Well, that settles that then. He did expand on his answer "It's a next gen PC game. We really do push the technology, you may need to upgrade your PC for this game. But it's a got a lot of great stuff going on in it, and the fans are responding awesome."
Well, it's certainly doing something right, if the concurrent Steam numbers are anything to go by, but if you want to know if your PC is up to the task of running a game like Starfield, you can check out the recommended specs here.
Will sales of Starfield surpass Skyrim?
The next question was posed to head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, around the addition of Starfield as a day 1 release on Xbox Game Pass. As it's available to everyone through the subscription service, how can Xbox guarantee Starfield will hit the sales figures of previous Bethesda titles like Skyrim?
As we know, the game has been in preview for a week prior to the Game Pass launch, with eager players having the ability to upgrade their game for Early Access, and the number of people taking up the opportunity has been phenomenal. "It's already the most played next-gen exclusive game on Xbox. We are seeing huge success. It's our biggest wishlisted game on Steam across Xbox and Bethesda Game Studios history."
Will Elder Scrolls 6 be exclusive?
Elder Scrolls 6 has long been a point of contention in the acquisition of Bethesda by Xbox, with the franchise being an existing one of which previous editions enjoyed releases on Playstation and Nintendo. Previously insiders have led fans to believe in interviews that the game would be exclusive to the Xbox platform. But when questioned on this by the FTC, Spencer hasn't committed to an answer on where the game will appear when finally released.
"We look at it on a case-by-case basis with the games that we build," said Spencer. Rather than confirm either way, the director pointed out that while Starfield is an Xbox exclusive, it can be played on console, on Windows PC or indeed any web enabled device via Xbox Cloud gaming.
2023 could be the greatest year in video games
Moving on to discussing another blockbuster title, Baldurs Gate 3, which is enjoying high steam chart success and rave reviews right now, Howard was asked about the timing of Starfield's release and if launch windows are considered around other titles. "It's so competitive. I think this year, 2023, could be the greatest year ever in video games." He continued "To have Starfield out there and the response we have gotten has just been incredible for everybody here at the studio."
Bethesda games are about more than just launch success though, as with games like Skyrim and Fallout 4, the model is built to be played for years, and no doubt bolstered by a thriving modding community. Howard emphasized that after 12 years of players enjoying Skyrim, it's still one of the company's most played games, Bethesda really wanted to build yet another world that players can get lost in for years to come.
Why are there no vehicles on planets?
You can explore over 1,000 planets in Starfield, a monumental task for any player, made even more laborious by the fact that on planet all exploration must be done on foot. Howard was asked if Bethesda is considering adding vehicles to the game. "It is something we consider, once you do vehicles it does change the gameplay."
He expanded on this to say that the intent is for exploration to stay on foot so everyone is seeing items in the world at the same speed, but "you do have a jetpack which you can upgrade which is super fun." This one may have to be left to the modding community then.
Regulator woes in the UK
Howard and Spencer were asked their stance on the current restructuring deal with the CMA, referring to the proposed sell off to Ubisoft of the cloud gaming rights to Activision titles.
"We are working cooperatively with the regulators as we have through this entire process," said Spencer firmly "We remain confident in the work we are doing with the CMA" and "we will close this acquisition."
Into the Starfield
It's clear from this interview that despite some trickier questions, Spencer and Howard were in great spirits and both Xbox and Bethesda are riding high on the success of Starfield's launch. It paints quite the opposite scene to interviews held back in May following the ill-fated Redfall launch. It seems Bethesda developers are overjoyed to see the fruits of their labor, and fans are having a blast experimenting and exploring within the game, and we expect more is to come.