It looks like the hype surrounding Starfield still hasn't peaked yet. Bethesda's latest blockbuster title, which has already notched a remarkable milestone even before its full launch, continues to add to its growing list of "accolades."
According to PlayTracker's user sampling data, the game has already exceeded 1 million players across Steam and Xbox, and that's just counting those who bought the Premium Edition. But hold your horses; this impressive number comes with a few caveats. The data arrives with some delay and is estimated, meaning it's as reliable - or unreliable - as your typical political poll.
PlayTracker's methodology draws from a couple of different data samples - cross-platform correlated databases and a rolling selection of public profiles. While this isn't exactly random sampling, it's statistically corrected using machine learning to provide a more accurate estimate. This algorithm pulls data from multiple sources like reviews, concurrent players, and even confirmed sales numbers when publishers reveal them. Nevertheless, it's crucial to remember that these are estimates, like political polls, and come with an element of uncertainty.
For more information on how PlayTracker's estimates work, head on over to our info page: https://t.co/M8J909Td8o
— PlayTracker (@PlayTrackerNet) September 5, 2023
The impressive early success of Starfield can also be attributed to a marketing model Bethesda seems to have perfected, following in the footsteps of Diablo 4 and Hogwarts Legacy earlier this year. In this model, "early access" to the game is limited to those willing to shell out for the more expensive edition. It's worth noting that the trend isn't new; the likes of Call of Duty has been pulling a similar stunt for at least a decade if not longer. But Starfield has a redeeming feature - full critic reviews were made available on the morning of the early access launch. Players had the opportunity to make an informed decision before taking the plunge, and the upgrade came bundled with a full DLC, which adds value to the package.
This value-based approach addresses the criticism often leveled against the premium editions offering early access as nothing more than a cash grab. If you're one of those fervent fans eager to support your favorite developer, the extra fee for early access goes directly to the developers. In contrast, editions that offer only early access and cosmetics could be considered less worthwhile investments.
For players who find the price tag for Starfield's premium access - somewhere between $60 and $100 - a bit too steep, there's another way to get in on the action. Xbox PC Gamepass offers the game at launch, allowing players to explore Starfield's universe for a month at a negligible cost - ranging from $3 to $10 per month depending on the subscription plan. This means you can essentially test-drive the game to see if it's your cup of tea. For some players, this "try before you buy" option might evolve into a wait-for-the-definitive-edition strategy, making use of DLCs and mods to create a more immersive experience down the line.
All in all, Starfield's early milestones, in terms of player counts, could serve as a harbinger of the game's future success. Its pre-launch numbers suggest that the hype is real, but whether the game can sustain this momentum post-launch is another question.
Bethesda's premium early-access model coupled with a more democratic Gamepass option is hitting the sweet spot, at least for now. While we await the full launch, it's safe to say that Starfield is already shaping up to be a stellar success, one that leverages both the pull of its brand and smart marketing strategies to reach for the stars.
By the way, in case you missed it, Starfield's paid DLSS 3 mod is now available for free.