Todd Howard asked on-air why Bethesda didn't optimise Starfield for PC: 'We did [...] you may need to upgrade your PC'

Bethesda's Todd Howard and Xbox head Phil Spencer have been on the interview circuit for the launch of Starfield, as part of which the pair granted an interview to Bloomberg Technology. While the questions have a more general business focus and veer into things like Game Pass and the Elder Scrolls 6 (no new info), the show starts with Bloomberg's Ed Ludlow rather starkly putting an audience question to Howard: "why did you not optimise this game for PC?"

"Uh… we did," says Howard, as Phil Spencer fails to suppress a chuckle. "It's running great. It is a next gen PC game, we really do push the technology, so you may need to upgrade your PC for this game, but it's got a lot of great stuff going on in it and the fans are responding awesome."

Starfield is, of course, a very Bethesda game. The studio's senior types have recently been bristling at the notion it ships buggy or poorly optimised games but, the thing is, there's a reason that reputation lands. Sure enough Starfield's early days have seen players enjoying plenty of quirkier aspects to the space lifestyle, including crew members riding on the outside of ships in deep space and persuasion minigames interrupted by combat. Even so, "upgrade your PC" is probably the answer that question deserved.

Further on in the chat, Howard's asked how he likes to play the game and what Bethesda hopes players get up to. "When I'm doing my ship I like to focus on shields and defence, because you never know what's going to happen when you jump into a new system," says Howard, a man who definitely knows what's going to happen in all of Starfield's systems. "As far as character builds… there's so much you can do in the game, it's like five or six games at once [...] whatever you want to do, whatever you're comfortable with, it's about players making it their own."

Finally Howard is asked about generative AI and whether Bethesda would consider using this in future, because the studio builds such massive games. Howard drops the nugget that Starfield has "over three million words in it" and waffles a little about the industry in general without really answering the question: probably because the answer is of course Bethesda will consider it, but doesn't want a fan backlash right as it's launching its biggest game to date. "The competition is high," ends Howard, "the bar is high, and we want to get there for our fans every time."


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Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."