Starfield has been hyped up for what feels like the better part of a decade, and in a colossal move to attempt to give reason to players to buy the Xbox Series X and S, Microsoft bought its studio mid-development for a mere $7.5 billion in cash. The September 2020 move, finalized in March 2021, now bears fruit in the form of Starfield’s massive release on Xbox consoles and PCs.
A couple of weeks post-release, the sci-fi RPG has clocked in an 83/100 from critics and 6.6/10 from players on Metacritic, but that matters little to Microsoft. What does matter is sales and playing data. Luckily, Starfield landed very well at the perfect time to get sci-fi fever going in entertainment, and it’s clear that other productions will look to ride its success.
Sci-fi to be the hit genre of the fall
Starfield gracefully lands in the middle of a tremendous amount of hype and attention given to the genre, touching down as the headline product in video gaming circles. Clearly seeing this coming and having full faith in Bethesda’s new game, Pragmatic Play crafted Gravity Bonanza, which draws from the promo art of Starfield. One of the reasons why Royal Panda is among the top casinos in Canada is its selection of over 3,000 games, which includes early access to Gravity Bonanza.
Elsewhere in entertainment, The Creator is picking up a lot of hype before its late-September release. From Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and starring John David Washington and Ken Watanabe, it has all of the hallmarks of an epic sci-fi spectacle but with the added bonus of a relatable, intense, and character-driven story. Furthermore, the subject matter, AI going to war with humanity but just wanting to “live” and be in “peace,” couldn’t be more timely. The success of such a big-budget sci-fi exploration RPG like Starfield will only bolster these other productions.
Was Starfield worth the wait?
By all accounts, Starfield has, at the very least, sold incredibly well. Importantly, it’s helped to sell Xbox consoles. In the UK alone, the sliding year-on-year sales figures flipped to a 76
percent week-on-week uptick that aligned with Starfield’s launch. In terms of physical and digital copies sold, Starfield has managed to top national sales charts, and the player count has it ranking among the top games of the year on Steam. However, the claims of it being Bethesda’s biggest launch will also have to answer for the Game Pass player base.
The subscription service reportedly used by some 25 million players made Starfield available on its first day without additional cost. Every player who counts towards that record launch via Game Pass could be seen as contributing to a loss. After all, the game’s RRP is around $70, but one month of Game Pass on PC or Xbox is $9.99 or $17 for the most expensive version. Still, only trailing the launches of Hogwarts Legacy, Diablo IV, Tears of the Kingdom, and Star Wars Jedi: Survivor in Europe this year, it’s clear that it at least sold well beyond Game Pass.
After finally understanding that exclusive games sell consoles, Microsoft must be enjoying the numbers being reported while also having their own count of new Xbox accounts and new Game Pass subscribers. Is Starfield enough to bring the Xbox up to the PlayStation 5’s standards? Certainly not. However, it’s a good start and one that fans of the sci-fi exploration RPG genre can enjoy for months on end.