The Elder Scrolls Online developer Zenimax Online Studios is also working on a new engine and a new AAA IP

The Elder Scrolls Online Skyrim
The Elder Scrolls Online Skyrim (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

What you need to know

  • ZeniMax Online Studios is part of the Bethesda Softworks family of studios.
  • ZeniMax Online Studios currently managed The Elder Scrolls Online but is also working on a new engine and a new IP.
  • This project is still early in development.

ZeniMax Online Studios is best known for developing the ongoing MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) The Elder Scrolls Online. While this expansion is continuing to grow with expansions such as Greymoor, ZeniMax Online Studios is also working on a new engine and a new AAA IP.

In an interview with Official Xbox Magazine (June 2019, issue 177), as spotted by Fextralife, Matt Firor, Game Director for The Elder Scrolls Online, confirmed that the studio is working on a new engine and a new project, saying "Yeah. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but if you look on our job site you'll see that we are accepting applications for people to work on a new engine for a new triple-A game. So yes, we have ideas, but we're committed to ESO for as long as it takes."

Alex Tardif, Lead Graphics Engineer at ZeniMax Online Studios, recently stated on Twitter that "Not much to say about this yet, but it's been so much fun creating a brand new engine. With how rare this kind of thing is nowadays, I feel fortunate to be at this studio while we invest heavily in our own technology."

It'll be interesting to see what form this project takes now that Bethesda Softworks is part of Xbox. Bethesda has confirmed that The Elder Scrolls Online will get a free upgrade on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PS5.

Xbox Series X/S


Samuel Tolbert

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

  • How many engines does Zenimax wanna use?
  • Exactly 436. And all of this nonsense that I have to write just to meet the minimum character limit to post.
  • One for each type of game, most likely. It's worth remembering these aren't general purpose competitors to UNREAL but tuned to specific games classes: One for shooters and action games, one for open world RPGs, one for MMORGS, etc. And they're not just about graphics and environment but also about character behavior, physics, and game logic. The client engine under ESO is a decade old so a new engine tuned to the next gen hardware makes sense.
    The same applies to the other studios. Creation Engine, for one, dates back to Oblivion. ID uses newer tech but both can probably stand an update to the AI functions. It sounds like Zenimax Online is still in the early stages so they may be looking at 2025 rather than 2021.
    The new Creation Engine on the other hand is already in use in STARFIELD and ES6 so it should be in final debugging by now. Soon to enter maintenance. Other studios are looking at different projects that require different capabilities and have no use for a lot of Creation Engine open world or quest creation functions so why carry the code? Finally, top rank game budgets are growing big enough to afford inhouse engines for each franchise which might make more sense in time-to-market than tuning a licensed engine. Look at the cash flow that a successful franchise can bring in well after launch; franchises like MADDEN, CALL OF DUTY, ASSASSINS CREED, FORZA, etc can easily support multiple full time teams working on both the games and the underlying tools. And that includes ZENIMAX either as a standalone or as a part of the XBOX ecosystem. They can afford it, especially if it makes for faster game development. As the business types say: you have to spend money to make money.