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Starfield Is An Xbox Exclusive, And Pete Hines Is Sorry

But Bethesda’s Todd Howard seems to think it’s for the best

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starfield concept art showing a space ship on a dusty planet at sunset
Image: Bethesda

Starfield, the big space-faring RPG from Bethesda, isn’t coming to PlayStation. Microsoft confirmed as much in its E3 2021 press conference. This morning, Bethesda’s Pete Hines addressed—and even apologized—for the exclusivity in a live-streamed interview with GameSpot.

“I don’t know how to allay the concerns of PlayStation 5 fans other than to say, well, I’m a PlayStation 5 player as well, and I’ve played games on that console, and there’s games I’m gonna continue to play on it,” Hines said. “All I can really say is, ‘I apologize,’ because I’m certain that that’s frustrating to folks, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it.”

Now, contrast that with remarks made by Starfield exec producer Todd Howard. In a wide-ranging interview with The Telegraph from earlier this week, Howard detailed why he thought Starfield’s exclusivity for the best.

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“You don’t ever want to leave people out, right?”, Howard said. “But at the end of the day, your ability to focus and say, this is the game I want to make, these are the platforms I want to make it on, and being able to really lean [into] those is going to make for a better product.”

Read More: Starfield Is ‘Skyrim In Space,’ Says Todd Howard

Howard further cited the ways in which you can release first-party Xbox games as one reason for why the deal is a positive. Between Xbox Game Pass—which debuts first-party games on launch day at no extra cost to subscribers—and Xbox’s push toward cloud gaming, it’s easier to get games into the hands of players.

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“Their ability to play our games doesn’t go down,” Howard said. “It goes up dramatically.”

Bethesda’s role-playing games like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls have historically launched as platform-agnostic titles. It’s easy to see how fans who have no access to an effective gaming PC or Xbox console might feel burned by this decision.

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It’s also interesting to square Starfield’s just-announced Xbox exclusivity with comments that Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer made to Kotaku last fall:

This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that. Nowhere in the documentation that we put together was: ‘How do we keep other players from playing these games?’ We want more people to be able to play games, not fewer people to be able to go play games.

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Spencer caught up with Kotaku shortly after Microsoft dropped $7.5 billion on Bethesda parent company, Zenimax, without blinking. At the time, it was unclear what would happen to all of the non-Xbox games previously revealed under Zenimax’s vast umbrella.

Xbox plans to honor exclusivity agreements already in place for some games, like Arkane’s Deathloop (which remains a PlayStation exclusive) and Tango’s Ghostwire: Tokyo (which has a lengthy console-exclusivity window on PlayStation). This weekend, Arkane unveiled Redfall, a fantasy shooter set in a Massachusetts suburb overrun by vampires. That game is an Xbox exclusive. Here’s my surprised face.

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“We’re big believers in all of the avenues that Xbox and Microsoft are doing to get games to more people,” Howard told The Telegraph.