Starfield is Bethesda’s biggest launch ever with 6 million players

Starfield – bigger than Skyrim (Picture: Microsoft)

More than 6 million people have been playing Starfield according to Bethesda, although it’s unclear how many of them are doing so via Game Pass.

Just yesterday, Microsoft bragged that over 1 million people were playing Starfield at once on Steam, during its official launch on Wednesday.

While the company still hasn’t shared hard sales figures, it’s safe to assume that Starfield’s been successful on that front too.

After all, the game was outselling Baldur’s Gate 3 on Steam even before the early access period began and now Bethesda says Starfield is its biggest launch ever, attracting over 6 million players.

That’s quite impressive considering it’s a new IP and not a sequel in either of Bethesda’s popular Elder Scrolls or Fallout franchises.

However, it’s notably behind other established Xbox franchises, with 2021’s Forza Horizon 5 boasting the biggest ever launch with 10 million players. Halo Infinite had 20 million players the same year, although that included the free multiplayer-only version of the game.

It’s certainly the biggest Xbox launch of 2023 though, as Hi-Fi Rush, by Bethesda’s Tango Gameworks studio, only broke 3 million players this year.

There are no figures for Arkane’s Redfall but considering it peaked on Steam with just over 6,000 players, it’s unlikely it came anywhere close to what Starfield has achieved.

Minecraft Legends, meanwhile, reached 3 million players in its first week, according to developer Mojang.

While Starfield’s player figures are impressive, it must be stressed that it (and the other Xbox numbers) includes people who played it via Xbox Game Pass and thus haven’t bought a copy of the game.

It’ll be interesting to see if/how this affects Starfield’s sales. A report by the Competition and Markets Authority in February included a statement by Activision that said putting newer releases on subscription services like Game Pass ‘severely cannibalises B2P [buy to play] sales.’

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On the flip side, this could have encouraged more people to invest in Game Pass. Microsoft is certainly in need of new subscribers as Game Pass subscriptions are said to have plateaued.

Plus, Game Pass has missed its annual growth targets twice in a row, costing executives their bonuses. The release of Starfield, though, shows what a major influence the launch of a big name game can have on the service.

Starfield is available for Xbox Series X/S and PC.

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