September 24, 2023

With both the scope and budgets of AAA games increasing dramatically in recent years, the development cycles of these titles have become longer on average. And considering the absolutely massive scale of Starfield, it stands to reason that Bethesda had this game in the metaphorical oven for a good while. But exactly how long did the development on Starfield last?

How many years did it take to develop Starfield?

Prior to the release of StarfieldFallout 4 served as the last major single-player open-world title that Bethesda put out. That game came out all the way back in November 2015, so almost eight years have passed since then. Development on Starfield began in earnest in 2016, presumably only a couple of months after Fallout 4’s release. Todd Howard, the director of Starfield, confirmed this in an interview with podcast host Lex Friedman posted around nine months ago. While the idea for Starfield surfaced well before 2016, the actual development of the game, judging by this interview, lasted for seven years.

To elaborate further on Starfield’s inception, Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, trademarked the title all the way back on March 22, 2013. So if you count the initial trademarking of a game as part of its development, then it technically spanned over ten years. If you want to go back further, however, Howard had aimed to create a sci-fi game since the 1990s, but the studio’s cracks at the genre either never came to fruition or, in the case of 1994’s Delta V, earned a less-than-stellar reception. In a sense, Starfield serves as a culmination of all the time and effort Bethesda has spent coming up with a substantial contribution to the sci-fi genre.

Even just considering the seven years of active development that Starfield went through, that is still by far the longest development cycle a Bethesda game has had. Before that, Bethesda titles took around four years to make on average.

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