Starfield, the big space-faring RPG from Bethesda, isn’t coming to PlayStation. Microsoft confirmed as much in its E3 2021 press conference. This morning, Bethesda’s Pete Hines addressed — and even apologised — for the exclusivity in a live-streamed interview with GameSpot.
“I don’t know how to allay the concerns of PlayStation 5 fans other than to say, well, I’m a PlayStation 5 player as well, and I’ve played games on that console, and there’s games I’m gonna continue to play on it,” Hines said. “All I can really say is, ‘I apologise,’ because I’m certain that that’s frustrating to folks, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.”
Now, contrast that with remarks made by Starfield exec producer Todd Howard. In a wide-ranging interview with The Telegraph from earlier this week, Howard detailed why he thought Starfield’s exclusivity for the best.
“You don’t ever want to leave people out, right?”, Howard said. “But at the end of the day, your ability to focus and say, this is the game I want to make, these are the platforms I want to make it on, and being able to really lean [into] those is going to make for a better product.”
Howard further cited the ways in which you can release first-party Xbox games as one reason for why the deal is a positive. Between Xbox Game Pass — which debuts first-party games on launch day at no extra cost to subscribers — and Xbox’s push toward cloud gaming, it’s easier to get games into the hands of players.
“Their ability to play our games doesn’t go down,” Howard said. “It goes up dramatically.”
Bethesda’s role-playing games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls have historically launched as platform-agnostic titles. It’s easy to see how fans who have no access to an effective gaming PC or Xbox console might feel burned by this decision.
It’s also interesting to square Starfield’s just-announced Xbox exclusivity with comments that Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer made to Kotaku last fall:
This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games.
Spencer caught up with Kotaku shortly after Microsoft dropped $US7.5 ($10) billion on Bethesda parent company, Zenimax, without blinking. At the time, it was unclear what would happen to all of the non-Xbox games previously revealed under Zenimax’s vast umbrella.
Xbox plans to honour exclusivity agreements already in place for some games, like Arkane’s Deathloop (which remains a PlayStation exclusive) and Tango’s Ghostwire: Tokyo (which has a lengthy console-exclusivity window on PlayStation). This weekend, Arkane unveiled Redfall, a fantasy shooter set in a Massachusetts suburb overrun by vampires. That game is an Xbox exclusive. Here’s my surprised face.
“We’re big believers in all of the avenues that Xbox and Microsoft are doing to get games to more people,” Howard told The Telegraph.