Starfield director explains the benefits of being Xbox exclusive

Bethesda’s Todd Howard has extolled the benefits of working with Microsoft to release Starfield only on Xbox and PC.

Back when it was announced in 2018, it was widely assumed that Starfield would release for the yet to be revealed PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda immediately made the possibility of a PlayStation 5 release less likely and it took until E3 2021 for the two companies to confirm that the game would only be available for Xbox and PC.

The lack of a PlayStation 5 port remains a sticking point but as far as Bethesda’s Todd Howard is concerned, Starfield’s exclusivity is only a good thing.

He argues this is because it allows the team to focus their time, energy and resources into just one console format, rather than splitting there time between two.

Needing to make the game playable on PlayStation 5 would’ve taken additional resources, claims Howards, although he stresses that he has no issues with the PlayStation 5 itself or Sony.

‘I think the PlayStation 5 is just an insane machine; they’ve done a great job and we’ve had great success on PlayStation,’ he said on the Lex Fridman podcast.

‘From a development side, you know, I like the ability to focus. So our ability to focus and say… and have help from them, the top engineers at Xbox to say ‘We’re gonna make this look incredible on the new systems’ is, from my standpoint, it’s just awesome.’

He added that Bethesda already has a lot of experience making console games that were exclusive to Xbox, citing The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, which has never seen a PlayStation port since its 2002 launch, and The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. That game was initially an Xbox 360 exclusive for a year until it was later ported to the PlayStation 3.

‘For us, that exclusivity is not unique,’ he said. ‘We were traditionally a PC developer in the beginning. We transitioned to Xbox; it became our lead platform.

‘Our initial stuff was all Xbox, so we get into development saying we’re focused on Xbox and… it’s not abnormal for us in any way. It’s been kind of the norm.’

Basically, Bethesda says it’s used to making Xbox-only titles, so the acquisition hasn’t caused any problems and allows it to receive better support from Microsoft.

Maybe this will mean Microsoft won’t let Starfield launch with the usual trademark bugs and glitches Bethesda games are famous for. The game has already pushed it back to 2023, choosing to skip a Christmas release to ensure the game’s polished enough to meet the weighty expectations of fans.

Of course, Howard was never going to imply that being owned by Microsoft is a bad thing. Although it’s interesting to hear him extol the virtues of only working on Xbox and PC when, in 2020, he said it was ‘hard to imagine’ The Elder Scrolls 6 not releasing for PlayStation.

Since then, though, Xbox’s Phil Spencer has effectively confirmed Elder Scrolls 6 as another Xbox exclusive. This remains the case for all of Bethesda’s upcoming titles, despite Microsoft suggesting that some would still release for other platforms – although that was prior to the acquisition being finalised.

Starfield launches for Xbox Series X/S and PC in 2023.

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