If you'd asked me yesterday, I'd have told you that Todd Howard was hewn from a stone they found in Bethesda's cellar. That he was some kind of implacable manifestation of the world spirit, fated and cursed to spend all eternity making games where all the physics objects on a shelf ascend slightly when you pick one of them up. But apparently he's just, like, a guy in his 50s? Who thinks maybe he only has one or two more of these things left in him? Strange but true.
In a chat with IGN, the Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and Starfield game director spoke about his vision for Starfield's long-term support after it finally releases (fingers crossed) on September 6 this year, noting that "Whereas maybe in the old days, you would put it out and then you'd go on to a sequel, now we can support that game for a much longer period of time".
That prompted him to speculate about The Elder Scrolls 6, which would presumably get the same lengthy post-launch support, leading Howard to remark that "I probably shouldn't say this. But if I do the math, I'm not getting any younger. How long do people play Elder Scrolls for? That may be the last one I do. I don't know".
Howard has said before that he expects TES 6 to have just as long of a shelf life as Skyrim, which got its latest re-release as little as two years ago, a decade after its basic edition first hit store shelves. If you consider that Starfield will likely hold Bethesda's attention for a good couple of years—at minimum—after its release, and that TES 6 will take another several years to make after that, that puts Todd Howard somewhere in his 60s by the time it comes out (and somewhere in his 70s by the time it gets its own anniversary edition). So, you know, fair enough really. I'd have retired years ago.
Todd Howard has a mixed reputation in my neck of the woods, the part where everyone still won't shut up about Morrowind. On the one hand, it's undeniable that Bethesda has turned into an industry juggernaut on his watch, a company whose every word and movement has fans on tenterhooks, and whose every release makes more money than the GDP of most countries.
But he's often pilloried by insufferable nerds like me who miss the weirdness and complexity of Bethesda's earlier work and hold him—perhaps unfairly, given he was lead on Morrowind—responsible for their absence in later games. Either way, I think the man has earned a break if he does decide to retire, and I'd be very curious to see what Bethesda looks like without him.