In early 2022, Bethesda Game Studios made a difficult decision: to push back the release of the highly-anticipated adventure game, Starfield, to the first half of 2023. The decision was met with equal parts disappointment and understanding, as fans lamented the original November 2022 release date, and looked forward to a more refined game in future. According to Microsoft Head of Gaming Phil Spencer, this heartbreak was necessary – because delaying Starfield was the right thing to do.
Speaking to The Verge, Spencer detailed the decision to delay the game, and spoke openly about Bethesda’s past with games that perhaps should have been delayed, and weren’t.
‘It isn’t really a decision to move a game after spending the team’s effort over multiple years just to get to a point where you know you’re not going to deliver the game you want on the date that was promised,’ Spencer explained. ‘Now, it is at some level, because I have shipped games too early. We have experienced shipping games too early.’
‘In hindsight, when you look at a game like Starfield, it’s taken so long and so much investment in new IP from the team. The decision to give the team the time to build the game that they feel they should be building is just the right thing to do.’
‘There are financial implications to those decisions. Weighing what is going to happen, whether it’s platform growth, subscriber growth, or frankly, the revenue that you generate when a new game launches, those are business decisions. You definitely have to weigh the outcome of those decisions.’
Spencer spoke further about the expectations placed on the upcoming game, particularly as a major Xbox-exclusive title designed to attract new players into the console ecosystem. With added pressure and expectation, Bethesda needed more support – which Spencer says Microsoft was happy to provide.
‘I just wanted to make sure those teams felt they had the support they could get from Xbox,’ Spencer said. ‘Maybe feel some of the benefit of being part of a larger organisation that has other revenue streams and other things going on that could be helpful.’
Going forward, the Xbox team will continue to support Bethesda as it heads towards the first half of 2023. While Starfield is currently undated, we expect to hear more about the upcoming game over the next few months. It joins vampire shooter Redfall as one of the flagship Xbox releases for early 2023.