Why Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls 6 at E3

One of the biggest "wow" moments at this year's E3 came at the tail end of the Bethesda press event, when it finally, officially confirmed that The Elder Scrolls 6 is in development. It was also tremendously underwhelming, because there was literally nothing to it but a quick flyover of some generic fantasy landscape and a logo, accompanied by a rehash of the Oblivion theme with a Skyrim lead-in. We don't even know which region of Tamriel it will be set in (though we've been speculating a bit). With so little to actually show, the obvious question is, why bother at all?   

"A couple of years ago I talked to Todd [Howard] about clarifying with everybody that TES6 was not going to be our next game, and we had two other big games that we wanted to do first. So we had already put that out there several years ago, but we were very vague on what those other two titles were," Bethesda's VP of marketing Pete Hines [note: not Todd Howard] said in an interview with FZ.se

"So it was just in conversations with him [and] folks on my team to say, look, why don't we consider putting out a little bit more of a roadmap for the studio that explains to folks, 'Here's what we're doing—yes, we're making this game called Starfield and here's what it is, and yes, we're going to make Elder Scrolls 6, but we have these other two games to develop and make first.' It's just so that folks have a better sense of where we are and where we're headed." 

But there was a more practical purpose to the reveals as well. Hines said Bethesda was expecting that some gamers would "freak out a little bit" when they learned that Bethesda's next big game, Fallout 76, is an online experience. Which is an understandable concern: Bethesda has earned a reputation for publishing outstanding single-player games like Dishonored, Wolfenstein, and Prey, but none of them have been obviously huge hits and that's the sort of thing that could get people wondering if we might soon be hearing about Fallout Battle Royale. 

"[The announcement] also helps convince folks, like, look, this is not forever-more what we're doing. We are going to do a game that's just single-player next time around, and yes, we are going to get to Elder Scrolls 6," Hines said. "There's going to be a long time before we're ready to talk about what those are, because we want the time between when we start to talk about it and it comes out to not be two years long or three years long. But it just gives folks a better idea of where we're headed and understanding what the studio is working on and trying to do."    

Neither The Elder Scrolls 6 nor Starfield have an estimated release window at this point, obviously. Bethesda does have Fallout 76 coming soon, however—November 14, to be specific. Hines revealed more about how that game will handle nuclear exchanges between players (because yes, that is a thing) which you can read about here.