So, Exactly How Well Is Starfield Performing For Microsoft?

UPDATE: Bethesda have released official figures revealing Starfield has already surpassed six million players, making it the “biggest Bethesda game launch of all time”. What follows is our earlier analysis based on limited information.

The release of Starfield is a big deal for Microsoft. It’s one of their first major AAA exclusives of the Xbox Series generation, as well as their first exclusive Bethesda Game Studios game. Besides from their mobile, live service and VR offerings, there hasn’t been a tentpole Bethesda Game Studios release since 2015’s Fallout 4, which followed 2011’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. This makes the release of Starfield a particularly special occassion.

Active development of Starfield began eight years ago, so there’s a lot of eyes watching just how the game is performing and how much that time, as well as Microsoft’s acquisition, has paid off. The game released officially on Sept. 6, with the early access opening to Premium Edition owners on Sept. 1. Discussion is rife online as to how the game is performing commercially, and whether it’s off to a good or bad start for Microsoft and Bethesda. This is a complicated question with a lot of nuance, but let’s break it down and see if we can make any sense of it. 

Starfield Spaceflight
Starfield is Bethesda Game Studios’ first big release in quite some time.

Let’s start with the figures we know. Using SteamDB’s data, we can see the game hit an early peak right after early access began of 234,000 concurrent Steam players, but that rose to a new all-time peak on the game’s Sept. 6 release date with a high of 269,000 concurrent Steam players. We also have some official figures from Xbox CEO Phil Spencer, who confirmed that Starfield “exceeded 1 million concurrent players” on its Sept. 6 launch day across all platforms. That’s all the data we have right now, so let’s take a look at how it compares to other games.

The Steam launch of Starfield is easiest to compare to other games, as SteamDB keeps an extensive record of concurrent players on all Steam titles. The first game one might compare Starfield to is Fallout 4, Bethesda Game Studios last big hit. On Steam, Fallout 4 hit a peak of around 472,000 concurrent players after its release. This is 43% larger than Starfield‘s Steam launch, but that doesn’t tell the full story. 

The Steam launch of Starfield was weaker than Fallout 4, but there’s more to consider.

Starfield is part of the Game Pass service, which is accessible to PC users through Microsoft’s own app on PC, so all Game Pass users would not be counted on Steam’s charts. The Fallout 4 comparison could thus be a little unfair, as it didn’t have the Game Pass momentum that would have swayed some towards using Microsoft’s own gaming storefront on PC. A more appropriate comparison therefore may be to a big Xbox title that also released on Game Pass that would have experienced the same split in users, so let’s turn to another space-based title with Halo Infinite

The launch of Halo Infinite was also a strange one, releasing with its multiplayer element first with the campaign release following a few weeks after. SteamDB shows that Halo Infinite has an all-time player peak of 272,000 concurrent players after the first day release of multiplayer, which actually fell to 147,000 concurrent players once the campaign was released. Starfield‘s launch day figures are similar to this, but Starfield‘s early access release also performed similarly well to its wide release, and didn’t drop as sharply as Halo did. On the whole, it seems like Starfield is more successful, at least as a PC launch, than Halo Infinite

Starfield artwork
It’s not an astronomical launch, but Starfield is taking off.

These numbers are all PC-centric, as it becomes a lot harder to make comparisons and judgements when including Steam, Xbox for PC and Xbox console figures. Despite this, there is one other game we can compare to try and get an idea of Starfield‘s performance, and that’s with Forza Horizon 5. Before we break down this last set of numbers, also keep in mind that Starfield is a new IP, whilst all these other games are from established franchises.

What makes Forza Horizon 5 a worthy case of comparison is that we have both launch day and launch week figures across platformsForza Horizon 5 saw three million players on the day of its release across platforms, and 10 million in its first week. This does seem to be higher than Starfield, given its launch day concurrent one million players, but it’s worth noting that these numbers are concurrent, whereas Forza‘s figure is total game players. It’s also important to remember Forza Horizon 5 launched on Xbox One, whilst Starfield didn’t.

That’s all we know for now, so what can we assume? Starfield is certainly performing well for an Xbox-exclusive PC release, and it’s far from a flop, but it doesn’t seem that this is Xbox’s biggest launch either. It’s still very early days though, as it’s entirely possible this weekend could see a spike in players. We’re also sure that if the game does break any particular milestones, Xbox would be eager to show off their numbers (as they did for Forza back in 2021). Should we get a new update on player counts or sales, we’ll be reporting them here and also updating this article. (See above!)

The last thing to consider is Microsoft’s aim with Starfield in the first place. Starfield‘s launch doesn’t yet seem to be breaking too many records, but was that even the purpose of their acquisition? Starfield‘s release will also have console sales attributed to it, as well as Game Pass subscriptions, both of which are vital to Xbox’s approach to the gaming market. The exact number of sales Starfield has won’t necessarily declare it a win or a loss, but rather how it impacts the Xbox brand and Microsoft’s presence in the industry in the long term.

Now we’ve seen the game’s first player figures and the critical response, how do you think Starfield is going to perform for Xbox and Bethesda? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to GameLuster for more breaking gaming news.

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Dan m
Dan m
13 days ago