Last year, Microsoft and Bethesda made a surprising announcement: Its upcoming open-world space-exploration game Starfield would launch on November 22, 2022. While the resulting “11-22-22” release date looked nifty at the time, it wasn’t meant to be.
On Thursday, Bethesda announced via social media that Starfield would be delayed to the “first half of 2023,” and it would be joined by Redfall, a vampire-themed co-op shooter that was previously pegged to a “summer 2022” launch window.
30-day countdown begins
There has been no new footage of either upcoming game since the last time Xbox hosted a lengthy first-party game-preview presentation… all the way back in June 2021. Starfield, developed by the core Bethesda Game Studios team, has received a few peeks into its behind-the-scenes process, but they have been limited to concept art and developer interviews. Arkane Austin’s Redfall, meanwhile, has been even more mysterious, with only a single alpha test leak from September 2021 showing anything resembling real gameplay.
This week’s announcement includes an indication that both games will soon receive their “first deep dive into gameplay,” which could happen as soon as June 12, when Xbox and Bethesda once again host a lengthy first-party game-preview presentation. That event is exactly 30 days away, in case you’re wondering how the leadership at Xbox schedules gaps between announcing a delay and showing off the delayed games.
The news comes amid one of Microsoft’s quietest years ever as a video game publisher, despite its ongoing game studio acquisition spree that reached a head in January with a bid to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. (Since that deal won’t conclude by the end of 2022, it’s moot for the purposes of today’s conversation.) And it currently leaves Xbox Game Studios without a single announced game launch thus far in all of 2022—which certainly dampens the first-party perks of a monthly subscription service like Xbox Game Pass. Thus far in 2022, that service’s catalog has been shored up entirely by third-party games… including, yes, Sony’s MLB The Show series.
While it’s fair to assume that the first-party drought will change by the end of Microsoft’s upcoming June 12 presentation, we wonder exactly which of the company’s previously announced games will get locked into a 2022 window and which of its existing studios will emerge with coming-very-soon surprises. In terms of first-party games, Xbox has previously announced new titles in production in the Forza Motorsport, Fable, and Hellblade series, along with Contraband from Avalanche, Everwild from Rare, and two new RPGs from Obsidian: The Outer Worlds 2 and Avowed. None of these games has confirmed launch windows—nor does The Elder Scrolls VI, which we’re confident won’t surprise-launch before Starfield.
More Gears? More Wolfenstein?
That list also includes a series relaunch for Perfect Dark, developed by relatively new studio The Assembly, though Xbox announced in September 2021 that Crystal Dynamics would be brought on board to help with production. That wasn’t necessarily a good sign for the game’s progress, and the updated arrangement got a mild jolt earlier this month when Crystal Dynamics was sold off by Square Enix to Embracer Group (though Microsoft insists that the deal hasn’t affected Perfect Dark‘s development).
On the unannounced first-party front, the June event may include brand-new stuff from Xbox Game Studios companies that have been quiet for a few years, particularly The Coalition (Gears 5) and MachineGames (Wolfenstein: Youngblood). Or perhaps nimble Xbox Game Studios teams like Double Fine will emerge with light, budget-priced fare to keep fans occupied through the summer while they wait for brand-new blockbusters (or for Halo Infinite to receive its campaign co-op and Forge map-editor updates, both of which have been repeatedly delayed). Don’t even get us started on our personal dream list of old Xbox series that should be brought back to life; we could go on all day about Crimson Skies, Killer Instinct, and, at this point, even Blinx.
Microsoft isn’t alone in shoving previously announced 2022 games into 2023, with Nintendo’s Breath of the Wild sequel receiving its own delay in late March. (Nintendo has also paused the retail launch of an apparently completed remaster of the Game Boy Advance hit Advance Wars due to sensitivities over the war between Russia and Ukraine.)
Questions now turn to Sony Interactive Entertainment. Will God of War: Ragnarok stick to its previously announced 2022 window? And exactly how many of Sony’s announced first-party games will receive 2022 release dates of their own? (If any of those games are delayed, Sony, might we suggest putting more great games on PC as a consolation?)