Microsoft's Xbox games division helped Bethesda unlock the full potential for Starfield.
Following the Microsoft-ZeniMax buyout deal for $7.5 billion, ZeniMax is now a limited-integration company within Xbox, but that doesn't mean that Microsoft's game dev teams and technology specialists haven't helped with Starfield's development. In fact, Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty confirmed that Xbox has been involved with Starfield's development since early 2022, with Xbox's ATG (Advanced Technology Group) assisting Bethesda Game Studios with various console-level optimizations.
In a recent interview with KFG, Bethesda Game Studios' Todd Howard says that Xbox's help has allowed the studio to reach its ambitions with Starfield. Howard responds to the pressures of Starfield essentially being a big proving point for the Xbox first-party games division, and how Microsoft's assistance helped accelerate Starfield's development and allow new improvements like the upgraded Creation Engine 2 optimizations on Xbox platforms. These ambitious new features include things like volumetric fog, the new global illumination lighting systems, physics effects, and more.
Q Do you feel like you're carrying the weight of Xbox on your shoulders right now, when that's kind of the narrative that's emerging? Do you think Starfield is going to be the standard-bearer for Xbox this year?
"I think I was feeling better before you asked that question.
"We're focusing on what we can do on this game. I'll say that Xbox has been, their support has been incredible on this, Phil, Matt Booty, and the team over there. Obviously we worked with them for a long time, going back 20 years with Morrowind.
"But being a part of Xbox and their support, it really has allowed us to be this ambitious and take these risks...and fingers crossed."