Todd Howard on Benefit of Starfield Xbox Exclusivity: ‘When You Think of Zelda You Think of Switch’

Bethesda development chief Todd Howard has discussed the benefits of Starfield being Xbox exclusive, namechecking the brand association Nintendo enjoys with its first party games.

Speaking to the BBC, Howard stressed that working to one console lets the development team “focus”, which in turns “yields a better product”.

“When you’re making something exclusive then the more you can focus,” Howard said. “You know this is the hardware or the thing people are playing on, so the ability to focus on that always yields a better product.

“You do want people to be able to access it of course. But being with Xbox means there is an ease of access for us and I’m told we’re expecting more people playing this launch than anything we’ve ever done before and that’s despite the success of our previous games.”

Starfield, which launches proper today, September 6, as a day-one Game Pass game as well as a premium release on PC and Xbox Series X and S, is seen as a key first-party release for Microsoft after a string of high-profile failures.

Howard’s comments echo those of Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines, who said in June during the trial between Microsoft and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the future of the Activision Blizzard buyout, that developing for fewer platforms has streamlined the process in some cases.

Hines said developers can hold more rounds of quality assurance testing when a game is on fewer platforms, which he called less of a risk than developing for many platforms. Hines insisted Starfield wouldn’t hit its September release date if it were a multiplatform title.

Indeed, exclusivity was a big topic at the trial, during which we also learned that MachineGames’ upcoming Indiana Jones game is also set to be exclusive to Xbox and PC. Arkane’s Harvey Smith has also said the studio canceled the PlayStation 5 version of Redfall following the Xbox acquisition and the exclusivity of The Elder Scrolls 6 is apparently up in the air.

Perhaps more interesting is Howard’s comments about the effect on brands from exclusives. “I do also think people attach brands to certain games. When you think of Zelda you think of the Switch and I think there are times when that can be a real benefit.”

Microsoft will be hoping the launch of Starfield boosts Xbox Series X and S, which has significantly lagged behind console rivals PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. During the aforementioned trial, Xbox boss Phil Spencer was forced to admit Microsoft had lost the console war, and sales data shows Xbox Series X and S have struggled to shift units this year.

If you’re after more cool stuff on Starfield, check out the player who stuffed 20,000 potatoes into a cockpit, opened the door, and revealed the game’s “mind-blowing” physics. If you’re playing, check out IGN’s interactive Starfield map.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at or confidentially at

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Author: Wesley Yin-Poole