Starfield has been postponed; long live Starfield! † column

In space no one hears you cry

Written by Michel Musters op Saturday, May 14, 2022 08:14

The bullet is through the church: Starfield will no longer be released on November 11, but sometime in the first half of 2023. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for many who, like me, are very much looking forward to the new science fiction adventure from Bethesda, but at the same time it gives me hope for the future. A future where games will hopefully be as good as finished when they hit the shelves.

I too was eager to get started with Starfield this fall. Meanwhile, there are more developers outside of Bethesda who can create credible open game worlds in which you can completely lose yourself, but few studios exist that can deliver such experiences with so much immersion. CD Projekt Red comes close, but Bethesda remains uncrowned king, even considering that Skyrim and Fallout 4 aren’t quite as comprehensive and “free” as their predecessors.

It’s nice news that Starfield may not even be released for a year so definitely not. I could already see myself snuggled up on the couch, while it’s cold and bleak outside, wrapped in a blanket with an Xbox controller in my hand. Going on an adventure in an awe-inspiring universe that I’m not creative enough to imagine in advance. Although we haven’t seen extensive gameplay footage yet, this seemed like the perfect game to lose myself in around the holidays. So the party’s off now, sob.

Still, a few days after the disappointing announcement, a positive feeling prevails. Microsoft could also have told Bethesda that the game should have been released this fall at all costs. After all, the Xbox and Game Pass lineups could really use a title of this size. I can already see Phil Spencer coming for coffee at Bethesda. “It’s nice that you guys don’t meet the deadline, Todd, but you make it work anyway. Good luck with that.”

Instead, the new owner of Bethesda apparently chooses to provide extra space. No, not the universe from the game, but the space to properly complete development and only release the game when it’s really finished. If the untimely – and disastrous – release of Cyberpunk 2077 has given us anything, hopefully it’s the realization that a game full of bugs and problems does more damage than good. A strong reputation takes years to build, but a few days to tear down. That is a painful lesson that CD Projekt has learned for the entire game industry.

Not to mention the so-called ‘crunch’ that plagues this industry. Games take more and more time to make, but publishers want to make money, so a game has to be released quickly. As a result, developer employees can sometimes work bizarre hours for months at a time, negatively impacting their mental, physical health and family life.

Now I’m not naive enough to think that delaying a game crunch will make it go away altogether; the problem is much deeper and is part of the foundation of this industry. Still, I hope that a new normal will slowly but surely emerge in which games only come out when they are really finished, and that crunch is gradually phased out because of this new normal. Maybe it’s a daydream, a utopia, but you have to start somewhere, right?

If you must be mad at someone, then be it at the top executives of Microsoft and Bethesda. Journalist Jason Schreier After the postponement, already indicated that the developers at Bethesda were shocked by the previously announced release date last year. Even then, employees sensed that this was an impossible task, but hey, that release date had to be announced to make the E3 press conference of the companies tasteful.

And it’s not Bethesda’s fault that there isn’t much in the way for Xbox this year either. Whether it’s Microsoft’s poor planning, the impact of the pandemic, or the fact that it just takes time for all those newly acquired developers to deliver top-of-the-line products: the fact remains that it’s Microsoft’s sole responsibility to have enough games throughout the year. to make Xbox and Game Pass worthwhile. Let’s wait for the Microsoft & Bethesda Showcase in June before we draw any concrete conclusions.

In short: shed a tear at Starfield’s postponement, but don’t mourn it too long. Hopefully it is a sign on the wall that the end result will soon be something to write home about. A sci-fi version of Skyrim of Fallout: New Vegas; an epic we can play for many years to come; a jewel in the crown of the Xbox lineup: anything good takes time.