Starfield is a hit for Xbox on at least one level, its overall playercount, which according to Phil Spencer has now crossed 12 million a couple months after launch. Long-tail performance on both Xbox and Steam has been solid, considering there have been effectively no major updates or additions to the single player game since launch.
But there is a very, very long term plan for Starfield, something Phil Spencer made clear in the same interview on the CCXP main stage, after being asked about Skyrim-level longevity:
“That’s our goal. You know, Skyrim is such an amazing hit from Bethesda Game Studios. Talking to Todd Howard and the team, really what they wanted to do is give people who love space and space exploration that same opportunity. We’ve already announced that we’ve got our next expansion coming, Shattered Space. We’ve already told the community that they’ll get all the mod tools so they can go and create their own content in Starfield, which has been so important to Skyrim, so a ton of confidence that for many many years Starfield will be sitting very high.”
Skyrim, of course, was released in 2011, re-released on about a dozen different platforms, and all these years later is still pulling in 23,000 players a night on Steam, which as many have noted, is now more than Starfield is doing there.
But that’s the question. Can Starfield have Skyrim-like longevity? It’s a lofty goal. Even as someone who liked the game more than most, it’s a little hard for me to see that happening. Partially because measuring anything against Skyrim is close to impossible, including all Bethesda’s other games. Partially because I’m not sure how the long term future players out.
Spencer is right that we really do have to wait for those two major things, the Shattered Space expansion, which does not have a release date but I would hope it arrives maybe within six months of release. Then we have the arrival of official mod tools for Starfield which has the potential to blow the game open with user created content. That is precisely what happened with Skyrim, and the main reason it has lived as long as it had.
By this point it is clear, however, that Starfield isn’t Skyrim. Starfield has certainly attracted a lot of players and some devoted fans, but in other places, among critics for one, it has had a more tepid reception. Another issue I think is going to rear up as time goes on is that Starfield at launch had many aspects that felt dated, too rooted in Bethesda’s past like its character modeling and conversations. And if this is already feeling dated now compared to newer releases in the space like Cyberpunk, Baldur’s Gate and now GTA 6, that’s only going to get worse and worse as the years go on. This will happen at a level that I don’t think Skyrim experienced, as little felt dated about that game when it arrived back then. It was mainly the opposite, it felt like a leap forward in lots of ways. Starfield, though enjoyable, does not.
We’ll know more by 2024 when the mod tools hit, and what additions may come with Shattered Space. For now, we can only forecast.
Follow me on Twitter, Threads, YouTube, and Instagram.
Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.
Read the full article here