At E3 this year, Bethesda made the surprise announcement of two massive games: a brand new sci-fi single-player game called Starfield and the long-awaited The Elder Scrolls VI. Speaking to GameSpot at PAX Australia recently, Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines and ZeniMax Online Studios game director Matt Firor said it’ll be a long time before The Elder Scrolls VI comes out–so long that the game might not hit until new console hardware is release.
“The easiest thing is look at how it was announced; it was Starfield and then [Elder Scrolls 6],” Firor said. “You can go back and count the years between Bethesda Game Studios releases, and you’ll get the idea that [The Elder Scrolls 6 is] not coming anytime soon.”
I asked Firor about The Elder Scrolls VI in regards to how that game’s release might affect ZeniMax’s MMO The Elder Scrolls Online. Specifically, I was wondering if The Elder Scrolls Online might incorporate the world of The Elder Scrolls VI in some way, following the way in which Morrorwind came to The Elder Scrolls Online by letting players go back to Vvardenfell. Firor said it’s too soon to say what will happen as it relates to whatever location The Elder Scrolls VI takes players to.
“I don’t even know what the world is going to be like when it comes out; there will be a different console generation by then, I’m sure,” he said. “Who knows. But I know we’re free and clear for a long time.”
Hines, meanwhile, described The Elder Scrolls VI as being “big” and “ambitious,” but he wouldn’t be drawn into getting into further specifics about director Todd Howard’s new game. What Hines did want to stress was that Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield so early on to help manage expectations and let fans know that yes, Bethesda hasn’t forgotten about The Elder Scrolls.
“[The Elder Scrolls VI] is big and it’s ambitious, but also … the most important thing to underscore is that the timeline between products that you get from BGS is not any different than it has been historically just because we’ve talked about two games after Fallout 76,” Hines said. “I try really hard to manage people’s expectations. It’s not like ‘Fallout 76 this year, Starfield next year, and then TES6 the year after.’ The timeline isn’t any different. What’s different is just trying to be transparent and say, ‘Don’t freak out, the next thing we’re doing is single-player [in Starfield], [and] we are making TES6.”
Hines stressed that it takes a “really long time” to make huge games like Starfield, which is a single-player only game, and the next Elder Scrolls Games. Bethesda has more people than ever working on its new games and more studios overall, but games like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are massive undertakings that require a lot of time to get right.
That being said, Hines said there could have been a nice upside to surprise-announcing Starfield just months before release (as it did with Fallout 4), but he’s also enjoying the fact that fans can be at peace knowing that ambitious new games are coming.
“Would it have been better if it was some years from now and we just go, ‘Surprise, we’re making a game called Starfield, and it’s out X months later?’ Yeah. For sure. But at the same time, there is also value in every day between there people aren’t freaking out about us making Fallout 76 as an online-only game as a service and this is all they’re ever making.”
There is “way more” value to giving fans the context and knowledge that Bethesda is still committed to making single-player games after Fallout 76.
“Take a deep breath; you’re going to be OK,” Hines said he wants to tell fans about its upcoming games. “We’re going to make some stuff you’re really going to love.”
Fallout 76 launches in November for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Starfield will follow after that, with The Elder Scrolls VI coming even later. Back at E3, Bethesda boss Todd Howard said Starfield might not be released on the current generation of hardware, so that being the case, it makes sense that The Elder Scrolls VI is also rumoured to not arrive until new hardware comes out.
Sony is rumoured to be working on the PlayStation 5, while Microsoft has already confirmed it is working on multiple new consoles. However, it remains to be seen when these consoles will be announced and then released. Keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.
We also chatted to Hines about how “crunch” culture, streaming technology in the gaming industry, Fallout 76 microtransactions, what he’s learned in his 19 years with the company, and a lot more. Check back soon for more from our conversation.
As for PAX Aus, it runs through Sunday, 28 October. GameSpot’s theatre, the GameSpot Dropbear Theatre, will have programming running all weekend. You can see the full programming lineup for the GameSpot Dropbear Theatre here, while a full list of every PAX Aus panel can be seen here.