- The Elder Scrolls 6 may most likely release in 2027-2028, according to Bethesda’s release cycle.
- Bethesda’s development cycle plan is to release a new game every 3-4 years.
- After Starfield releases this year, ES6 would release in the late 2020s.
- Previous games such as Fallout 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76 were released during a 3-4 year cycle.
When The Elder Scrolls 6 was announced at E3 in 2018, fans believed the game to be just around the corner. Fallout 76 would release that year, and it would be four years since the release of Fallout 4. It had been seven years since the release of The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, and fans wondered when the next Elder Scrolls title would release. Starfield would also be unveiled during the same E3 event alongside The Elder Scrolls 6.
At the time, fans did not know how far out these games would be. Starfield is set to release sometime in the first half of 2023, delayed from a November 2022 release date.
Bethesda’s Release Cycle
Since the release of Fallout 3, Bethesda Softworks maintained a 3-4 year release cycle, releasing a new mainline title during this timeframe. Bethesda executives such as Pete Hines have maintained that this would be the schedule of releases, saying, “Timeframe-wise, it would still be about as long as you’d expect when you look at fallout 3 to Skyrim to Fallout 4 to Fallout 76. It’s still going to be those periods of time, that hasn’t changed”.
These games would release an average of 3-4 years apart, and if not for the delay of Starfield, it too would fit into that timescale. Starfield is the next all-new IP from Bethesda, an open-world sci-fi RPG following in the footsteps of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Starfield began development in 2015, and the Elder Scrolls 6 has been in pre-production since at least 2018 at the latest.
With Starfield releasing in 2023, we can assume that The Elder Scrolls 6 could release in 2026 at the earliest. However, modern video game development cycles have become longer and longer, and ES6 could be unlikely to release only three years after Starfield. Starfield’s delays could also be delaying The Elder Scrolls 6 as well.
2027 may seem like a more appropriate date. As of June 2022, The Elder Scrolls 6 was still in pre-production, which means the game is still being conceptualized. However, development is likely to be scaling up as Starfield winds down closer to release.
A Next Generation Title
2027 may also be a likely date as a new generation console could be due. By the time The Elder Scrolls 6 comes out, the current 9th generation of consoles (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S) will already be outdated. The ES6 could most likely be a launch title for a next-generation Xbox, as console generations typically last 7-8 years. A new Elder Scrolls would likely be a launch exclusive for a next-gen Xbox.
There is also the potential of ES6 being delayed some time in its development, as many games have been in the last couple of years. In the worst-case scenario, The Elder Scrolls 6 could be delayed into 2028. The Elder Scrolls 6 may end up releasing nine years after its official announcement and 16 years after the release of its prequel, Skyrim.
On one hand, development cycles have become so long for game studios that an entire console generation may pass before a game is finally ready to release. Fans get impatient, thus forcing studios to prematurely announce their titles. One such example was Cyberpunk 2077, which was released 8 years after its official announcement.
Other studios keep their projects tight-lipped until they are ready to be announced. Take-Two has famously been silent on Grand Theft Auto 6 until a leak revealed an early build of the game. We expect GTA6 to be announced sometime this year or next and be released in 2024-2025.
Studio boss Todd Howard had said that the company has a one-pager on Fallout 5. If we take into account Bethesda’s development cycles, then Fallout 5 may not release until 2030 or 2031, also around 16 years after the release of Fallout 4 and 12 years after Fallout 76.
While fans of The Elder Scrolls are waiting for the 6th entry in the franchise, Starfield will release this year, Bethesda’s most ambitious game yet. Sister studio Obsidian Entertainment is developing an open-world Elder Scrolls-like game titled Avowed, which may release sometime in the next year or two.
It may be 4-5 years before we get to play The Elder Scrolls 6, but Bethesda will take its time. Many will argue that Bethesda’s development times must be so long to ensure that its games are of the highest quality; these long gaps have become increasingly long.
Someone who was in middle school like me when I first played Skyrim will be well into their late 20s by the time a new title comes out. Fans should be patient, but these lengthy gaps can be a problem for a studio. These gaps may make it difficult to keep fans invested in a franchise.
With a 16-year gap between the last Elder Scrolls, an entire generation of consumers will grow into gaming without having played any of its previous titles, with older games in the series potentially being seen as too outdated. Some fans may simply lose interest.
Another problem for Bethesda is that some fans of The Elder Scrolls and other titles may simply become too old when ES6/Fallout 5 etc. released. Many people who were kids or teens when Skyrim came out may have family and work obligations.
Bethesda IP Enters New Mediums
In the meantime, Bethesda is looking at adapting its IP into new mediums to continue interest in its franchises. A live-action Fallout series is currently filming for Amazon Prime and could release sometime this year or next. If the Fallout series is well-received, it could influence Bethesda to adapt its other IP such as Skyrim and Starfield, into its own series.
While The Elder Scrolls 6 is years away, modders are keeping Skyrim alive with new mod projects, including Beyond Skyrim, which aims to recreate the whole of Tamriel within Skyrim, and Skyblivion, which is a remake of Oblivion within Skyrim.
The mod community of Bethesda games has always been historically strong, keeping even its oldest games alive with fresh community-made content. When Starfield releases this year, the scale of potential mod content will be unimaginable. It will be years until we get to see The Elder Scrolls 6. Will it be worth the wait? Absolutely. In the meantime, Starfield will keep us busy.
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