Starfield is delayed, and that’s just fine. Originally slated to launch on November 11, 2022 (to mirror Skyrim’s November 11, 2011 release date), the Bethesda-published Xbox exclusive Starfield has been pushed back to “the first half of 2023” along with multiplayer vampire shooter Redfall.
Immediately, Starfield started trending on Twitter as gamers reacted with shock, outrage, and wild speculation on how disastrous this will be for Microsoft (a multi-billion-dollar company) and the entire AAA game market (a multi-billion-dollar industry). One thing there’s been no explanation for: Why should we care?
There’s also the question of why this is a surprise. In 2022, in the midst of an unfathomably deadly pandemic that’s thrown every element of modern life into disarray, why should something as complex as a video game developer be expected to run smoothly? The past few years have been full of delays for major games, including Breath of the Wild 2’s recent slip to 2023. We’ve seen nothing to suggest that Starfield is anywhere close to complete — not a gameplay clip or a single screenshot to offer any hint of the game’s progress. Even the choice of release date seems to have more to do with looking good on a poster than being a realistic target.
Despite the fact that Bethesda has shown no Starfield gameplay and revealed virtually nothing concrete about the game, it was easily one of the year’s most anticipated releases. That’s not entirely unearned when it’s being developed by the studio behind some of the most beloved RPGs of all time. Meant to launch a new sci-fi universe for the developer, Starfield is also seen as a flagship game of the Xbox Series X|S.
Who better to show off the power of the new console generation than the developer of Skyrim, a game so popular even Bethesda seems exhausted by how often it’s ported?
The obvious problem here is that’s all speculation. Outside of a few developer blogs and some extremely pretty concept art, the only basis for Starfield hype is Bethesda’s reputation. Hype of that kind can easily turn toxic if the game deviates at all from players’ expectations, which it’s bound to do to some extent.
Most of what we know about Starfield comes from brief developer vlogs.
Let’s not forget that less than two years ago CD Projekt Red, riding high on the success of The Witcher 3, unleashed Cyberpunk 2077 on the world. Yes, the memes and glitch compilations that emerged were absolutely worth it, but the game remains barely playable after 16 months of updates. Even before Cyberpunk approached its eventual launch, when it was still suffering multiple delays, we had seen far more of the game than we’ve currently seen of Starfield.
Everything Bethesda has said about Starfield suggests a game with Cyberpunk 2077-level ambitions, and that comes with the potential for a Cyberpunk 2077-level disaster.
As long as it’s been possible to seamlessly deliver patches online, games have launched in rough shape and been polished after the fact. Bethesda is certainly no stranger to releasing games with bugs that are as entertaining as the games themselves. But with a game as complex, as we’re told Starfield will be, the funky physics and graphical glitches of The Elder Scrolls could easily morph into game-breaking errors. If you’re invested in Starfield being a good game and not just a distraction to fill the bleak, yawning void we’re all currently living in as soon as possible, it’s hard to see a delay as a bad thing.
Starfield isn’t being canceled, after all. It’ll still be there to devour months of your life in 2023 just as it would have if it launched this year. In the meantime, I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are a lot of other games out there.
In October, the month before Starfield’s intended release date, we’ll see Forspoken and Gotham Knights. Before that, we’ll get Splatoon 3, Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, and Diablo Immortal, and that’s just looking at major publishers. Just the day before Starfield’s delay, Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase featured 13 games, most of which are due out this year.
If you were planning to play Starfield on Xbox Game Pass, you have even more options, with a dozen or more new games being added every month. Just in May, it included the incredible Citizen Sleeper and the pretty good Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, with Umurangi Generation and more still to come. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find countless games not being heavily promoted by platform holders that are just as worth your time.
That’s not to say that these games are anything like Starfield or that they’ll fill the AAA-sized hole in your heart. Games can be a lot of things besides million-hour open-world RPGs and diversifying your gaming diet can lead you to great experiences you never expected. It’s a much better way to pass the time until 2023 than pining after a game we know next to nothing about yet.
Laying your expectations on one mostly mysterious game isn’t just putting all your eggs in one basket — it's putting all your eggs in a basket you don't even know the shape of. There’s nothing wrong with getting excited for the next hyped-up AAA game coming down the line, but overinvesting in release schedules and marketing campaigns while ignoring the rest of the thriving medium is bad for the audience and for developers feeling the pressure of expectation. Think of the eggs!