In an interview with Geoff Keighley, which was reported on by GamesIndustry.biz, Todd Howard (director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios) offered a simple explanation for why Bethesda has re-released Skyrim so many times.
“Even now, the amount of people who play Skyrim seven years later; millions of people every month are playing that game,” said Howard. “That’s why we keep releasing it. If you want us to stop releasing it, stop buying it.”
Indeed, the long-term success of Skyrim is staggering. While previous Elder Scrolls games were no slouch in the sales department (Oblivion sold especially well thanks to the studio’s increased focus on making it a console-friendly game) Skyrim is a different kind of beast altogether. The game has sold over 30 million copies since its release in 2011, and Skyrim still attracted over 50,000 simultaneous players on Steam in 2018. It’s staying power is astonishing.
While the commercial success of Skyrim and other major Bethesda games is of course financially appealing for the studio, Howard says the longevity of titles like Skyrim means more to him than just some extra digits on an earnings report.
“I’d say I want it to be sustainable. Eventually, there will come a day where I’m not making games at Bethesda,” said Howard. “Hopefully that’s a long time away. But I want to make sure that who we are, what the worlds are, what the company is, that’s sustainable far beyond me.”
While some may take that to mean that Bethesda Game Studios plans on developing more games like Fallout 76 that can be stretched out over the course of multiple years, that doesn’t seem to be what Howard is saying. He even recently noted that Fallout 76 doesn’t represent the kind of game that the studio intends to solely make from now on. Instead, it seems that Howard is simply interested in ensuring that the team makes more games like Skyrim that live on well-beyond their release date.