Bethesda announced The Elder Scrolls 6 back in 2018, and the game is still a long time off. According to Bethesda veteran Bruce Nesmith, who has since left the company, director Todd Howard only agreed to announce the game so early because fans were coming with “pitchforks and torches” inquiring about the game. Howard has subsequently questioned whether or not he made the right decision in announcing the game so early.
“You have to remember, the company took years of hits for not talking about The Elder Scrolls 6. I mean years of hits. Because Todd’s opinion, one which I share by the way, is that the video game industry has short memories. Those companies that start touting their games years ahead of time? Actually, they screw themselves,” Nesmith told MinMaxx. “The best time to start talking about it is six months before release.”
For Fallout 4, Bethesda announced the game in June 2015 and launched the game about five months later in November of that year. Before that, Skyrim was announced in December 2010 before launching less than a year later. The playbook has changed in recent times, though, as Bethesda announced Starfield in 2018 and just launched the game in September 2023.
For The Elder Scrolls 6, many assumed the early announcement was in part to assure fans that the game was coming and to help recruit staff to work on the project (and the same logic could apply to the early reveal of Fallout 5). In August this year, Howard said he often wonders if it was the right thing to announce The Elder Scrolls 6 so early. “I have asked myself that a lot,” he said. “I don’t know. I probably would’ve announced it more casually.”
In the case of The Elder Scrolls 6, Nesmith said Bethesda might not have announced the game so early were it not for “the pitchforks and torches.” Nesmith said this compelled Howard to say, “Yes, we are going to do The Elder Scrolls 6. I promise you. It’s for real. It’ll happen.”
While The Elder Scrolls 6 was announced in 2018, Bethesda has said basically nothing about the game in terms of specifics. Nesmith expects this to be the case for a while to come. “I am betting you won’t hear much in the way of details until a good six months before release,” he said.
Nesmith left Bethesda after Microsoft acquired ZeniMax. He said he would not discuss how the Microsoft money was distributed amongst the staff following the $7.5 billion deal. However, he said the Microsoft acquisition shifted his own retirement plans forward and he decided to leave after Starfield. Longtime marketing veteran Pete Hines also announced his retirement from Bethesda following the launch of Starfield.
While Nesmith has left the company, he said he expects traces of his work to appear in The Elder Scrolls 6.
“Todd knows what he wants. That’s this set over here. There’s the whole rest of the game that is not defined. What will probably come through, because you can see it in the history of the game, is things that were developed in Oblivion, Skyrim, will be further developed for The Elder Scrolls 6,” he said. “I don’t know what they will be. But you will find my finger prints on many of those things.”
Nesmith had a long career at Bethesda, having started there in 1995. He worked on a number of titles across the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, wrapping up his career with Bethesda as a systems designer for Starfield.
In June as part of the Microsoft-FTC court case, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said the platforms for The Elder Scrolls VI are not yet decided, in part because the game’s release is so far off.
“With Elder Scrolls VI, it’s so far out–it’s hard to understand what platforms will even be at this point,” Spencer said. “It’s the same team that’s finishing Starfield, which comes out this September. So we’re talking about a game that’s like five-plus years away.”
Microsoft is working on new Xbox hardware, and the next console generation could begin in 2028, so it’s possible that The Elder Scrolls VI shows up on whatever the next Xbox turns out to be.