Starfield lead Todd Howard is feeling the pressure to be Xbox Series X “platform seller”

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Microsoft has been on a studio-buying mission for the past three years, scooping up Obsidian and Ninja Theory. Besides Activision Blizzard, the biggest of all has been Bethesda, the studio behind Fallout, Skyrim, and the upcoming intergalactic RPG Starfield. 

Studio head Todd Howard admits that he’s feeling the “pressure” to make their sci-fi RPG a “platform seller” for Microsoft’s Xbox Series X – and honestly, after all these acquisitions, Microsoft’s studios need to start delivering attractive exclusives for the console.

“We’ve never been kind of the platform seller, you know ‘, the game’ for a platform for some time, and so, there is a lot of pressure [and] a lot of responsibility there to make sure we deliver for everybody,” Howard said in the Lex Fridman podcast (via VGC).

Adding to the pressure, the deliberately lonesome Starfield won’t launch on Sony consoles, but Todd Howard said, “this is not abnormal in any way”. 

“Keep in mind that for us, that exclusivity is not unique, even though we’ve done PlayStation stuff, and I think the PS5 is just an insane machine,” Howard said. Adding that the studio used to predominantly produce PC games, only recently focusing on the Xbox following Microsoft’s purchasing of Bethesda for USD$7.5 billion.

A ship in Starfield landing on a planet

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Star man

Exclusivity stands out when a previously multiplatform studio stops releasing its games for every console, and Nintendo Switch and the PS5 are no strangers to exclusives. This year alone, Sony released three of its own in God of War Ragnarok, The Last Of Us, and Horizon Forbidden West.

While we’ve been reporting on Microsoft’s many acquisitions over the past few years, the absence of big Xbox Series X|S exclusives and games that show off what this generation of consoles can do have been noticeably absent. 

With stock shortages hindering anyone from getting their hands on PS5s and Xbox Series X, and with the focus being on Game Pass opening up a single library of games to gamers on PC and older Xbox consoles, the lack of new games wasn’t too large an issue until recently.

However, there’s been a shift. This Black Friday, while the PS5 was still in short supply, there were plenty of Xbox in stock. A great deal on the Xbox Series S made it one of the best deals over the long weekend, and now all those new Xbox owners will want something special to justify their purchase. 

Will Starfield, with its sandbox world of over 100 solar systems and spacey combat sequences, be able to deliver?