Starfield: And That’s Marketing –

Starfield had a blowout today as part of the Xbox conference, and it’s safe to say it did its job. Opinion on the game has shifted dramatically.


Not that the muted reaction to it before was ever fair. I think it’s a nice combination of Fallout 76, Bethesda’s reputation for janky launches and a general attitude to Xbox that made people comfortable knocking it out. And maybe those people will still turn out to be right.

But before it felt like those critics were in the majority. You couldn’t read about Starfield without someone popping up to say “It won’t be very good. When was the last time Bethesda had a hit?”

Now, those attitudes have shifted. With one major blowout of information, gamers are excited again. It is being discussed using terms like Game of the Generation and Game of all Time. And I seriously hope it lives up to that hype – it’s looking like it would be.

Regular readers here at GamesReviews will know I regularly talk about how poor gaming marketing is. in particular, I’ve talked about the mistakes Xbox have made. It’s not enough to have good games or good devices – you need people to think they’re good. And marketing is a big part of that. Both Xbox and PlayStation had short expansions to popular games at the start of this generation, but one of them was a major release and the other was basically forgotten about. Xbox still all too often suffers with that mindset.

But today’s conference – the whole conference – hopefully signals a change in attitude. That, combined with the release of HiFi Rush, shows that Xbox is trying new things to turn opinions on their brand.

Starfield – The Deep Dive

So what did the Starfield trailer do that was so clever?

Bethesda is no stranger to the deep dive. It’s something they do exceedingly well. But Starfield was bigger, and it needed to be.

The game is so massive, that to cover everything would be followed. And therein lies, I think, what made this event so special – it wasn’t about showing you everything. It was about showing you possibilities. That is a powerful thought.

It showed endless choices, and I can only talk to myself when I say I was already playing the game in my head as the event ran. That happens so rarely, especially when you’ve been in a bit of a gaming rut.

It wasn’t all good news for Xbox tonight. Monkey Island was a treat, but the fact that Starfield and Forza remain the only big games for 2023 is a shame. Delays happen, but they were both due before summer. Between Redfall and two (extremely exciting) “genre” games being the main takeaway for the year, I’m not sure it’ll be enough to change attitudes. Car games never count. And there will absolutely be Starfield FOMO, but expect plenty of nitpicking exactly where you’d expect it.

To end on a positive, I will say this: the diversity in the Xbox line-up is unreal. Maybe more so than any other console manufacturer ever. I can’t think of a first-party catalog that can rival it in terms of pure choice. And that is a very, very exciting prospect.

Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He’s written two books and a web series, and doesn’t have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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