One of the running jokes in the games industry is that Bethesda's uuber-hit RPG, Skyrim, is playable on just about every electronic device known to man. Following the recent launch of a tongue-in-cheek version of Skyrim for Alexa, those claims are gaining even more weight. But, according to Director Todd Howard, there's a very good reason the game keeps getting ported to new platforms. In short, people keep playing it.
During the recent Gamelab in Barcelona, Bethesda's Todd Howard spoke about the persistent game worlds which the studio is known for. When asked about the multiple versions of Skyrim that have popped up since the game's 2011 launch, Howard (via GamesIndustry.biz) was pretty blunt about why Bethesda is still playing the same old song. According to Howard...
Even now, the amount of people who play Skyrim seven years later; millions of people every month are playing that game. That's why we keep releasing it. If you want us to stop releasing it, stop buying it.
To Howard's credit, asking Bethesda why they keep publishing Skyrim is akin to asking Burger King why they keep selling the Whopper. Because it sells. Still, in video games, there aren't too many titles (if any) that have been given the Skyrim treatment. A game that sells super well might get a Game of the Year edition or even a remastered port during the next console generation, but that's typically where the steam runs out. Skyrim launched last generation on PC, PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Multiple enhanced versions have been launched at this point, including on current generation platforms like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. More recently, we got Skyrim for the Nintendo Switch and even the PlayStation VR. And now, to complete the punchline, we've got a voice-controlled version on Alexa.
But as the source points out, Howard isn't wrong in his assertion that the game continues to be a massive hit. As recently reported by Valve, Skyrim had 50,000 people playing at one given time during the first half of 2018. Again, that means that many people were playing on just a single platform at one specific time of day. Throw in all of the other platforms and it's clear that folks are returning to the Bethesda classic in droves and with impressive regularity.
This all feeds into another reason Howard sites for continuing to release their extremely popular game on new platforms, longevity. The games market is full of twists and turns that can cripple or even close even the most successful developers. If the community wants one of your games on a new platform, is it a wise decision to leave that money lying on the table? While fans who played the game years might view this kind of move as a cash grab, those who have not played the game yet might see it as an opportunity to finally dive in.
Either way, so long as this many people are still playing Skyrim, it sounds like Bethesda is happy to keep making it available whenever and wherever possible.