Don't believe this 'leaked' Starfield launch date

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

What you need to know

  • Starfield is an upcoming space RPG from Microsoft and Bethesda Softworks. 
  • Made by the team behind Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Starfield is likely going to be a major game for Xbox later this year. 
  • Microsoft has officially stated that the game is targeting the first half of 2023 for launch. 
  • A store page on CDKeys features a launch listing of March 23, 2023, but we have it on good authority that this is merely a placeholder date. 

With the latest Xbox Developer_Direct out of the door, fans are already looking ahead to the next one, widely expected to feature Starfield. 

Xbox's debut Developer_Direct was a big hit, featuring games like Redfall and Minecraft Legends, with a surprise drop of Hi-Fi Rush launching straight into Xbox Game Pass after the show. Hi-Fi Rush has since found itself riding high on Steam sales charges and Twitch viewership stats, kickstarting what should be a pretty impressive year for the Xbox platform. 

Still, Xbox fans are chomping at the bit for information on the main event of upcoming Xbox games: Starfield, by Bethesda Softworks, and Todd Howard of Elder Scrolls fame. To that end, a recent store listing has fans wondering if the game could be launching sooner, rather than later, leading to dozens of DMs landing in my inbox. 

I had to spoil the party, but this is one particular rumor you should put to bed. 

(Image credit: CDKeys)

The Starfield listing on CDKeys suggests that the game is dropping on March 23, 2023. This would hit Microsoft's previous assertion that Starfield will hit in the first half of 2023, launching before Redfall which is due on May 2nd. However, the most likely reality here is that this is simply a placeholder date. Indeed, the CDKeys store listing says that the delivery platform for Starfield will be the Bethesda Launcher, which has been shut down for over half a year. The likelihood Microsoft has issued a hard launch date to retailers like CDKeys is absolutely minuscule and flies in the face of information we've received about Starfield's current developmental status. 

We have it on good authority that Starfield's launch date isn't yet set in stone. Speaking to us on condition of anonymity, trusted sources have told us that Starfield is now playable in full from start to finish. The game is truly vast, spanning multiple star systems. As such, the polishing effort is similarly gargantuan in nature. Bethesda's "Creation Engine" games feature spiderwebs of branching narratives, intersecting consequences, and overlapping systems. 

The modularity of the engine allows Bethesda to quite rapidly iterate upon massive, dynamic worlds with complex systems and simulations, but the downside is the potential for bugs. Bethesda games like Fallout 3 and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim were notorious somewhat for glitches. It stands to reason that Microsoft and Bethesda would prefer Starfield to be as polished as humanly possible, given that it now also carries the weight of Xbox as a platform on its shoulders. 

Windows Central's take

It remains to be seen whether or not Starfield hits its target launch window of between now and June of 2023. I am personally of the belief that we could see the game slip beyond the summer, with quality efforts ongoing. 

It's paramount that Starfield launches with a high-quality bar, as Xbox looks to once and for all put to bed accusations that it can't deliver "game of the year" contenders among its best Xbox games.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!