The Elder Scrolls 6 may be the last game in the fantasy series Todd Howard makes, the Bethesda boss has said. Speaking to IGN ahead of Starfield Direct, 52-year-old Howard discussed the length of time it takes for Bethesda Game Studios to make its games.
Starfield is Bethesda Game Studios’ first new intellectual property in over 25 years, and its first major release since Fallout 4 came out eight years ago in 2015.
While Bethesda Game Studios has grown bigger since those days, with four studios (Rockville, Montreal, Austin, and Dallas) set up and contracts with multiple partners in place, this expansion does not necessarily speed up development, Howard insisted.
The Elder Scrolls 6 was announced in 2018 with a teaser video, below. Howard has confirmed it will follow Starfield, although a release window has yet to be announced.
In a 2022 interview with IGN, Howard said Fallout 5 would be Bethesda Game Studios' next game after The Elder Scrolls 6, but he clarified that comment, saying now: “it [Fallout 5] will clearly be after Elder Scrolls 6 at some point… At some point in the future.”
What’s clear is Bethesda Game Studios titles take many years to develop, something Howard has bemoaned in the past. But Howard insists the most important thing is to give these games the time they need, pointing to the long gap between the launch of games like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto as not negatively impacting their series.
“I think Half-Life 3 will do fine, right?” Howard said. “So even though in the moment, how do I bring that closer to reality today, because I want to play it, those gaps, these are still evergreen franchises that I think when they come, it's about just doing it right.
“I want to be faster, but speed isn't the goal.”
In that context, and with planned long-term support for Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 in mind, Howard has begun to think about how many games he has left in him.
“So our ability, like we talked about, to support Starfield… Whereas maybe in the old days, you would put it out and then you'd go on to a sequel, now we can support that game for a much longer period of time, which is what our plan is.
“And then as we look to an Elder Scrolls 6, that is one where… I probably shouldn't say this. But if I do the math, I'm not getting any younger. How long do people play Elder Scrolls for? That may be the last one I do. I don't know.”
Based on Bethesda’s track record for development timescales, The Elder Scrolls 6 may end up skipping the current generation of consoles entirely. It seems certain that whatever Bethesda Game Studios releases after The Elder Scrolls 6, whether it be Fallout 5 or something else, it will launch on Microsoft’s next-generation console. And after that? Assuming The Elder Scrolls 7 is a game Bethesda Game Studios intends to make, we could be looking at it coming out 20 years from now.
For more from Todd Howard, check out the interview in full. We’ve also got a roundup of Starfield Direct, and a Summer of Gaming 2023 schedule if you’re wondering what’s coming up next.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. Send news tips to email@example.com.