We finally got an official release date for Starfield. But it does mean that the game did miss that 12-month window from last year’s Xbox and Bethesda Showcase. Of course, this means that Starfield was once again delayed. However, the game’s release date announcement is more telling on several fronts. Here are 4 things we learned from the Starfield release date announcement.
Microsoft is Confident that the Activision Acquisition is Going to be Approved
During our state of Xbox 2023, we predicted that Microsoft will successfully acquire Activision this year. It’s been over a year now and the gaming media got the full brunt of a never-ending corporate legal drama on a scale never witnessed before.
Initially, Xbox promised that Starfield was supposed to launch before the end of June 2023. However, with the September 6 release date, that means they missed their mark. But it does suggest that Starfield didn’t want to crowd out another first-party game in June, which is….
Diablo 4 is Already Considered First Party
That’s right Xbox already considers Diablo 4 a first-party title. This displays confidence that the ABK deal going through. Additionally, Xbox probably did not want to crowd out Diablo 4‘s limelight in June by releasing Starfield in the same month. Since it’s a new IP, marketing heads at Bethesda and Xbox wanted Starfield to have its own spotlight and marketing campaign. So releasing two AAA games in the same month is not strategically sound. Instead, Xbox sought to align Starfield’s release date with another promise it made…
Aligning Starfield with the Quarterly AAA Release Cadence
Starfield’s September 6 release date achieves two objectives at once. First, it meets the quarterly AAA release cadence Xbox Head Phil Spencer mentioned last year. During Q1 2023, Xbox shadow-dropped the critically acclaimed Hi-Fi Rush onto Game Pass and Steam. This marks the beginning of a quarterly AAA release cadence.
Diablo 4 is the next in the pipeline in June and Starfield after that in September. Second, it shows that Xbox is strategically spacing out release dates to entice players to keep their Game Pass subscriptions active.
"We want to get to this point where there's a steady flow of great (first-party) games coming the customer can predict. We don't have a big game this quarter; we want to get to the point of regular releases people can get excited about. We still have work to do here."
— Klobrille (@klobrille) March 13, 2022
Starfield September Release Means Forza Motorsport Will Likely Land in Q4
Now this leaves Q4 with an opening, that will likely be claimed by Forza Motorsport. Since racers have a general mass appeal that can penetrate the mainstream, Q4 is a perfect time to hype up the seminal racer sim right before the holiday period. You can bet that car enthusiasts will notice Forza Motorsport and will ask for an Xbox Series X|S console. Or perhaps they prefer to play on PC, so maybe a PC Game Pass subscription will do as a stocking stuffer.
It is disappointing that players will have to wait a bit longer to get their hands on Starfield. Though, it does seem that its 3-month delay is strategic in nature and hopes to ensure that Game Pass subscribers stayed subscribed.
How do you feel about Starfield‘s release on September 6? Are you disappointed Xbox didn’t keep its 12-month window promise? Or are you apathetic about the promise entirely? Sound off in the comment section below.