According to Todd Howard, the iconic developer at Bethesda Game Studios (BGS), it’s not a game you play once and never pick up again.
Howard was speaking with Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac Games, in an interview with Game Maker’s Notebook about a number of topics, including scale in modern games, and then the subject of Starfield’s lifespan came up: “This is a game that was intentionally made to be played for a long time. One of the things we learned from our previous games, like Skyrim, like Fallout, is that people want to play them for a very long time. How do we build it to allow that in a way that feels natural, and when people have played the game and finished the main quest, you can see that,” Howard said.
This idea got him thinking about Starfield’s open-ended New Game+ system, which seems creative and unique. Then he was asked how developers should push themselves as technology advances: “I think it starts with the developers. It has to, right? I think it starts with the technology. You see new hardware, you want to use it in new ways, you look at game demos and say ‘we could do this, we could present it this way’. The size of games, I think I’d have to go back and look. How big were things before? The one thing I’ve noticed is that because more games are played for a long time, they’re ‘live games,’ the ability to update them over time creates games that people are playing right now that have been around for a long time, have had years of updates, and that creates an expectation.”
Starfield has been out for a month (it was available to everyone on September 6, but Premium/Constellation Edition pre-orderers could play from September 1), and on September 19 we heard that it had already had the biggest launch in Bethesda (and BGS) history, reaching over 10 million players by that point. It also made it into the top 5 best-selling games of the week in Europe.