The Elder Scrolls 6 is out of 'pre-production' but Pete Hines says it will be 'years' before we start hearing about it

A vista of plains and mountains with the worlds "The Elder Scrolls VI" over the top.
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Starfield is so close, you can almost feel the cold void clutching at your bones through the thin sheen of your delicate spacesuit: September 1 for everyone who's purchased the Premium or Constellation editions of the game, and September 6 for everyone else. And when it's finally out the door, that clears the deck for the game everyone's really been waiting for: The Elder Scrolls 6. Right? Well, yes, but not anytime soon.

We already know that The Elder Scrolls 6 is the game coming after Starfield: Todd Howard confirmed it when Starfield was announced in 2018. But in an interview with Spanish site Vandal (Google translated), Bethesda head of publishing Pete Hines suggested that fans not start holding their breaths waiting for it, because it will be "years later" before news on the game starts to flow.

"We have all of our studios focused on making [Starfield] the best it can be," Hines said. "And yes, there are people working on The Elder Scrolls 6, but this is what the studio is focused on. So no, at no point early are you going to hear about The Elder Scrolls 6 ... Starfield is our focus for now, and it's going to remain our priority for a while before we talk about anything else."

Hines did say, however, that The Elder Scrolls 6 is no longer in "pre-production," as Todd Howard described it last year: "It's in development, but it's in early development."

This really isn't surprising. Even when Starfield is released, the work will continue. Patches will come first (even if Starfield really has "the fewest bugs any Bethesda game ever shipped with," as Microsoft Game Studios head Matt Booty said in June, post-launch work is inevitable), and expansions will follow: The first story expansion, Shattered Space, has already been announced, and Hines said in this interview that support for the game beyond that "is going to last for a while." And in case you'd forgotten, Xbox boss Phil Spencer warned us all in June that the next Elder Scrolls game is "five-plus years away."

Frankly, I'll be surprised if The Elder Scrolls 6 lands before 2030, which would put it 12 years after its existence was officially confirmed (at the same time Starfield was announced, no less) and just shy of 20 years (yowzah) since the release of the last Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim. Todd Howard recently said that he kinda regrets announcing The Elder Scrolls 6 when he did, and it's not too hard to understand why.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.