There’s an interesting Japanese language interview with Xbox’s Phil Spencer going around, one where he’s asked about all manner of topics including Game Pass, Xbox’s new relationship with Square Enix, and of course, Starfield, the biggest Xbox release of the year.
When asked about Starfield’s plans for the future, Spencer said the following:
“We believe that it is essential to continue updating Starfield’s content in order to maintain engagement with the game over the long term and encourage continued subscriptions. That’s exactly what Todd Howard and his team are doing right now.”
I find this to be a…somewhat interesting answer, and one that suggests that Starfield’s future may include other elements than what’s already been laid out. Obviously, Bethesda has already announced that Starfield will get an expansion, Shattered Space, where current estimates have that out some time in early 2024, like around six months or so after launch. Bethesda’s Creator mod tools should also be out by then.
I do have to wonder about what “maintaining engagement” with Starfield looks like outside of that, however. Obviously a big concern about launching a game like Starfield on Game Pass is that players can subscribe for the game, then cancel it after a month or so, whenever they feel like they’re done playing. So Bethesda needs to give them a reason to continue playing.
I don’t want to say that Starfield is going to turn into a dreaded l*ve s*rvice offering, but I do have to wonder what the plan is here. If an expansion comes out in six months, that’s plenty of time to lose Game Pass subs if people dip out once they feel they’ve put enough time in the game.
I find myself thinking about…Fallout 76 here. Okay, okay, wait a second. No, not its 49 Metascore launch, but how it evolved over time, and created a neat little community. Since its release in 2018, Fallout 76 has had 16 different updates of varying sizes, some huge, some small. And they’re still going, as a new Atlantic City update is coming this December.
And of course, there’s also No Man’s Sky, the game Starfield is endlessly compared to, for good reason. That game “fixed” itself with more updates than I can even count at this point, again, not all massive expansions, but updates of various sizes with decently major additions. There was an update for just base building, for instance. Or land vehicles. Story quests. Large quality of life overhauls and systems revamps.
The point is…I think there are more options at play here than just bug-fixing patches, a few balance tweaks and then DLC in six months. I think Bethesda has learned a lot from Fallout 76 in terms of how to build a playerbase, and Starfield certainly has a better foundation than that game had at the start.
I do not expect Starfield to get like, multiplayer. But I do wonder if we could be headed toward a series of updates at least somewhat similar to the one’s I’ve listed. No, not full live service. I’m not talking seasons and battle passes, but enough content to get people to return and understand more is coming in between major expansions (I assume there will be more than one).
Maybe we do get those land vehicles everyone wants. More ship and base parts (I think this one is a given). More weapons and armor. Planets that spring life they haven’t had before (thinking some sort of “beast hunt” event). At least some amount of new missions or “surprise” events put into the game that get people logging in.
Absolutely none of this has been talked about, so I clearly can’t say it is happening, but I also wonder if Starfield did not want to be given the live service stigma label at launch, and now if it adds things (for free, until the expansion) that will be a nice bonus and mainly a reason to retain Game Pass subs. Without things like that, I’m not sure how you prevent a lot of people from cancelling Game Pass before the expansion, or even necessarily returning to the expansion when it does arrive.
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