EXCLUSIVE: Read the internal memo 'Starfield' director Todd Howard just shared across Microsoft, Xbox, and Bethesda

 Todd Howard from Bethesda
Todd Howard from Bethesda

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The early access launch of Starfield is imminent, and discussions online about the game are heating up. Starfield is among Microsoft's most important Xbox exclusives in recent years, built by the legendary software house behind The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 3 and 4, and various other industry-defining titles. Led by Bethesda's own Todd Howard, Starfield promises to be the studio's most expansive, most ambitious game to date, set in our very own Milky Way galaxy.

With hundreds of explorable star systems and planets and potentially dozens upon dozens of hours of hand-crafted content, Starfield promises to be another huge hit for the team. Bethesda's single-player games enjoy a long tail owing to a passionate modding community and traditions for ongoing content. Starfield is Bethesda's first IP in almost 30 years, with a completely new universe and lore penned by the world-class world-builders at Bethesda.

The team has undergone quite a lot of changes in recent years. Microsoft acquired Bethesda in 2021, and Starfield marks the first game launched under the unified Bethesda-Xbox partnership. Ahead of Starfield's early access launch on September 1st, 2023 (but see our full Starfield review right now), we received this poignant internal note (also verified by Microsoft) from game director Todd Howard, making the rounds within Xbox, Microsoft, and Bethesda.

From Todd Howard, director of Starfield:

I knocked on Robert Altman’s door. “Got a few minutes?”


It was early 2013, we were developing Fallout 4, and Skyrim was still enjoying enormous success. I was there to pitch him on our next game. It would not be a sequel to our current games, (he looked concerned), but a grand space RPG and our first new IP in over 25 years (looks curious). It would delve into creation and the search for our place in the universe (slight twinkle). You would explore the galaxy in ways only video games can do. And it would be called - Starfield. (Smile)

“Sounds fantastic.”

Robert would be the very first to believe in us, no matter the situation. Our path to creating Starfield would be a long and winding one where we made other games along the way (Fallout 4, Skyrim SE, Fallout Shelter, Skyrim VR, Fallout 76, Skyrim again…). The core development from 2020 to 2023 saw enormous changes in our lives. A global pandemic, Robert’s passing, and becoming part of Xbox.

It’s incredible to be at the moment where Starfield is finally launching this week. It only exists because everyone else believed as well. We’ve been supported for decades by everyone at ZeniMax, all doing their best work yet. Special thanks to our publishing teams who aimed to create not just another release, but something that would capture the minds and inspire gamers everywhere. And to our partners in QA who had the difficult task of testing a game where anything can (and will) happen. And thanks to Jamie Leder and our Admin/HR teams who supported everyone during the most challenging years any of us have faced.

And of course, there is Phil Spencer. His support of every game and every player has been unwavering and fierce. Joining Xbox brought us closer to so many we had worked with for over 20 years. I cannot imagine a better place to create games, where the diversity of studios, creators, and games are allowed to flourish. This support came from the entire Xbox leadership team and all areas of publishing and dev support. Special thanks to the magicians at ATG whose spells and incantations helped make this our best performing game.

Most importantly, is the team I work with at Bethesda Game Studios. It’s an incredible blessing to be surrounded by so many talented and inspirational people every day. Moments like this make you reflect back. Some of us have been together for decades, some joined more recently, but everyone has the same passion. I could not be prouder of their continued dedication to create something truly special.

Lastly, a huge thanks to all of you within the Xbox and Bethesda family. Your enthusiasm and encouragement have meant the world to us. Creating this game has been one of the most challenging and thrilling experiences of our careers - a journey we'll never forget. And as we come to the end of this chapter, we pass it along to you. Each of you is receiving the game with Early Access, and can begin playing this Friday Sep 1st, but since it’s one global time you can actually play Thursday evening (Thanks New Zealand!).

We hope you get a chance to play, and that your journey is as rewarding as ours.

All our best,


Into the Starfield

Bethesda Softworks holds a special place in many gamers' hearts, owing to the experiences created by the studio across Xbox and PC since even before the Morrowind days. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most-purchased games of all time, and games like Fallout 4 still enjoy healthy concurrent player bases on Steam despite their age. I have hundreds of hours personally across both franchises, and the experiences therein make up some of my most memorable and most cherished.

The excitement surrounding Starfield has reached a fever pitch. Whether it's from newcomers to the Bethesda formula, who have been longing for Xbox for higher-quality action games or long-time fans enduring the long wait for Elder Scrolls 6. I stepped away from penning my Starfield review to write this article quickly, and Todd's note here also made me reflect on 2023 in gaming and how incredible it has been for new Xbox games and new PC games in general. Will Starfield be among those incredible titles? The Starfield review embargo lifts on 12 ET, August 31, 2023. Smoke me a kipper — I'll be back for breakfast.