Bethesda’s Todd Howard continues to defend the decision to make Starfield Xbox only, directly comparing it to Nintendo with Zelda.
Platform exclusive video games have been the norm ever since the industry began. Occasionally, though, one such exclusive will spark discourse about whether it’s fair or not to keep it locked to just one or two platforms.
For 2023, that game is Starfield, which many have decried for being an Xbox/PC exclusive, with no sign of it ever coming to PlayStation 5.
In the past, director Todd Howard has defended Starfield’s exclusivity as being highly beneficial for its development. He’s keeping to that stand and in a new interview has directly compared it to The Legend Of Zelda series being a Nintendo exclusive.
In a new interview, Howard reiterates the positives of working on platform exclusives since, ‘You know this is the hardware or the thing people are playing on, so the ability to focus on that always yields a better product.’
‘You do want people to be able to access it of course. But being with Xbox means there is an ease of access for us and I’m told we’re expecting more people playing this launch than anything we’ve ever done before and that’s despite the success of our previous games,’ Howard told the BBC.
He adds: ‘I do also think people attach brands to certain games. When you think of Zelda you think of the Switch and I think there are times when that can be a real benefit.’
The comparison doesn’t quite hold up though when you remember that Zelda is a franchise that has always been part of Nintendo whereas Starfield originally wasn’t going to be an Xbox exclusive.
Development had started long before Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda and Microsoft itself alleges that Starfield was originally going to be a PlayStation 5 exclusive, which was the catalyst for the decision to buy Bethesda.
Despite what Howard says only a small percentage of Starfield’s total development time has been while it is an Xbox exclusive, and there’s nothing in the game that would be impossible on the PlayStation 5 (in fact, it might speed up the irritatingly long load times, as Sony’s console has a faster SSD).
However, Bethesda has previously claimed that had Starfield been multiplatform it would’ve taken longer to come out, because of the additional work needed to get it working on a third format.
Starfield’s Xbox association is entirely down to Microsoft paying money for it to be an Xbox exclusive, something that only became a factor late in its development.
The Zelda games, by comparison, have always been designed with Nintendo’s hardware in mind, especially entries that make deliberate use of console specific features, like the DS’s dual screens for Phantom Hourglass or the Wii Remote’s motion controls for the original release of Skyward Sword.
Starfield is available for Xbox Series X/S and PC.
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