- Bethesda Game Studios' Starfield secured fifth place on Europe's best-selling charts earlier this month.
- Starfield's inclusion as a day-one Xbox Game Pass mean higher actual revenue numbers than reported.
- This is a good sign for Microsoft after spending billions buying ZeniMax Media and Activision Blizzard.
Europe saw an intriguing shift earlier this month as Starfield nabbed fifth place on the best-selling charts, according to the GSD data (via GamesIndustry.biz).
This new entrant by Bethesda Game Studios, which is exclusive on the Xbox Series S/X, wasn't just a fleeting moment of success. Starfield has been christened as both the fastest-selling new IP and console exclusive of the year.
To put this triumph into perspective, its launch sales galloped ahead of two third-party PlayStation 5 exclusives in Final Fantasy 16 and Forspoken. Granted, the latter was a commercial disappointment, but FF16 wasn't. It didn't sell enough to save its developers, Square Enix, from its financial troubles but it was still the fastest-selling PS5 exclusive so far. But, despite the relatively limited data available, Starfield's success still highlights the importance of multi-platform releases, with its sales trailing behind a pair of record-setters, Hogwarts Legacy and Diablo 4, as well as Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, which recently lost its director. Nestled in between the four games is the GOTY frontrunner, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, a game that's more of an exception rather than the rule.
But there's a nuance here that's worth delving into. Starfield's numbers are not a straightforward comparison. Those who splurged on the premium edition got early access, allowing them an extra week of gameplay. This means Starfield enjoyed a slightly extended sales period compared to some of its competitors. Additionally, its availability as a day one Xbox Game Pass release means that the complete data might paint an even more favorable picture for the game, as the Game Pass numbers aren't considered in the current figures.
Now, if you're wondering about its performance compared to other Xbox releases, Starfield edged Forza Horizon 5, making it the most significant Xbox launch of this generation in Europe. This achievement is particularly commendable, considering Starfield wasn't available on the Xbox One, a predecessor that still has a vast user base. The comparison with Forza Horizon 5, a title that has its own considerable fan following, underscores just how massive Starfield's debut has been.
On the digital side of things, there were other games making a comeback. Both Titanfall 2 and Need for Speed: Heat experienced a surge, re-entering the Top Ten, thanks to some attractive digital deals. Notably, Titanfall 2 also received some bug fixes from its developer, Respawn, in the recent past.
Starfield's success goes beyond its sales. A vast majority of the game's player base are Game Pass subscribers. Thus, for a game that is Bethesda Game Studios' first non-Playstation release in a significant span, these numbers are undeniably impressive.
We can only speculate about the actual player numbers when every single gamer is taken into account. It's not quite the biggest launch by Bethesda Game Studios ever, but six million is nothing to scoff at - dwindling Metacritic score be damned.
Given that Starfield is a fresh IP and has deliberately overlooked Playstation, historically the biggest console platform in Europe, its success has been all the more remarkable. The decision to make it exclusively available on the Xbox Series S/X had drawn its fair share of critics and skeptics. But looking at its current standing, both Bethesda Game Studios and Microsoft have ample reasons to rejoice.
Yet, amidst all this success, there's a developing trend in the gaming world that's worth noting. The early access releases are becoming a significant factor in sales figures, potentially skewing interpretations. In Starfield's case, the sales data is an amalgamation of two weeks of sales: one from early access and the other from the standard release. This merging of figures might enhance the perceived success of a game during its launch week, intensifying the Fear Of Missing Out among gamers.
As we progress, it wouldn't be surprising if early access releases become even more prevalent, further amplifying the "week one sales" figures and the resultant FOMO.
While its success story is dotted with nuances like early access and Game Pass availability (and the numbers including only Europe), there's no denying its impact.