How Starfield’s Launch Compares To Skyrim, Fallout 4, And Fallout 76

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After years of development, Bethesda Game Studios’ big new sci-fi RPG Starfield is finally available, and it’s putting up big launch numbers. As of September 7, the game had reached 6 million players and tallied 1 million concurrent users.

Big numbers! But how do those figures compare to BGS’ previous big releases, including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76? You can see a rundown of the key launch numbers for those games below. Bear in mind, though, that the arrival of Game Pass changed the game, because players can subscribe to get access instead of buying the game outright. Not only that, but Bethesda is now owned by Microsoft, and that means Starfield is only available on console for Xbox, while Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76 were multiplatform releases.

With those caveats out of the way, here’s how Starfield’s launch compares to the three past releases from BGS.

Starfield

On September 6, the day Starfield officially launched for everyone following its pre-release period for people who paid more, the game reached 1 million concurrent players. That counts the number of people playing Starfield across all platforms, including PC, console, and cloud. Not many games have passed 1 million concurrent players, and now Starfield is one of them. For comparison, only one game, CS: GO, had more than 1 million concurrent players on Steam today.

In terms of sales, that’s a little trickier to pin down. Microsoft and Bethesda have not confirmed a sales number for Starfield, but it was announced on September 7 that the game reached 6 million people since launch. This would seemingly count everyone who played Starfield starting with its launch for the $100 Premium Edition and $300 Constellation Edition on August 31 through September 7. Starfield is available on Xbox Game Pass, so all of the program’s subscribers can play the game at no extra cost.

Everyone who played Starfield between August 31 and September 5, however, would have needed to pay to buy a copy of Starfield. For Game Pass members who didn’t want to wait, Microsoft also offered a $35 upgrade option that unlocked the game on August 31.

Whether or not Bethesda or Microsoft ever announce a hard sales number for Starfield is unknown. For its part, Microsoft has said Starfield will absolutely make money for Microsoft, in part because it’ll drive new Game Pass subscriptions, and there is real value in that. Microsoft, these days, tends to focus more on the more nebulous “engagement” metrics as opposed to hard sales numbers, which is why it no longer announces Xbox hardware sales numbers or game sales figures. With Game Pass, the paradigm has shifted.

Fallout 76

Prior to Starfield, 2018’s Fallout 76 was BGS’ last release. It did not resonate very well with critics (at launch, at least), and Bethesda did not announce a sales figure for the online game. The NPD, however, revealed that the game was the No. 4 best-selling game of its launch month in November 2018 for the United States. It trailed only Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Red Dead Redemption 2 for its launch month. Bethesda doesn’t share digital game sales figures with the NPD, which is now called Circana, so Fallout 76 ranking fourth with only physical sales accounted for is a more impressive achievement.

Bethesda steadily improved and supported Fallout 76 over the years, and as of the end of 2022, the game had reached more than 13.5 million players. The game hasn’t necessarily sold that many copies, but reaching that many players is an impressive feat all the same.

Fallout 4

Looking further back in the BGS timeline there was 2015’s Fallout 4, which had a gigantic launch. Bethesda announced that the game shipped 12 million copies worldwide for launch day alone, which the company said represented sales in excess of $750 million. For comparison, Rockstar’s GTA V generated $800 million in revenue over its first 24 hours in 2013. It took 2023’s smash hit Hogwarts Legacy two weeks to reach 12 million copies sold.

The Fallout series is poised to continue to grow with the new Fallout TV show from the creators of Westworld, and Fallout 5 is also coming sometime further down the road.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

2011’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim hit the ground running, selling 3.5 million copies in its first 48 hours, climbing to more than 7 million within the first week. The game also tallied more than 280,000 concurrent players on Steam for Skyrim’s launch day.

Skyrim continues to be BGS’ most popular game of all time. It has sold 60 million copies to become one of the top 10 best-selling games in history.

The game’s longrunning success became something of a meme. Game director Todd Howard said in 2018, “If you want us to stop releasing it, stop buying it.” At the time, Howard said millions of people still play Skyrim every month. That figure has now doubt slowed down in recent years, but thousands of people still play Skyrim every day on Steam alone.

BGS is now shifting some of its focus to the next Elder Scrolls game, The Elder Scrolls VI. After a period of pre-production, the game is now in active development, but it’s still years away.