After years light on exclusives, Xbox exec says Starfield will start a "baton pass" for big releases like Avowed and Hellblade 2

Starfield trailer Saturn vista
(Image credit: Bethesda / Xbox)

Rather than a response to the narrative that Xbox has struggled to release hit exclusive games, Xbox chief marketing officer Jerret West describes Starfield as "the starting gun of a relay race" which will be continued by the likes of Obsidian's fantasy RPG Avowed and Ninja Theory's Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2.

I don't know that we need to put the pressure of changing a narrative on Starfield

Jerret West

Speaking with GamesRadar+ at Gamescom, West says Starfield's launch is a rare moment for the industry and the Xbox brand. "I talked a lot about community joy and communal joy, and that's what I think Starfield represents for us," he begins. "It doesn't come along very often, where you have a game that's so ambitious from a creator like Todd Howard. He'll create new IP maybe once every decade or two. And this is one of those moments. So I think back to when I was just a gamer and it reminds you of why you love gaming. I think Starfield represents a lot for the industry as a whole, because I think it's one of those moments that is so ambitious and so creative, and so unique and so new, that a lot of people are really excited about it. 

"I think that Starfield in some ways represents the starting gun of a relay race that is going to be amazing for Xbox as well," West continues. "And when I say Xbox, I mean the console and PC gaming communities. Because you see that all of these games are launching into Game Pass day and date on PC, on console. We've got Starfield and then Forza. And then if you think about 2024, we've already announced things like Avowed and Hellblade, and maybe you've gotten an opportunity to play Towerborne. 

"All of these games are kind of the baton pass to really create and shape how people are experiencing Xbox as a brand. And so I don't know that we need to put the pressure of changing a narrative on Starfield. I think of it more like it's the starting gun of a relay race that's going to be pretty special for us over the next several years. And there are many titles that will contribute to that winning race." 

Hellblade 2 Senua face screenshot

(Image credit: Ninja Theory)

Starfield, Avowed, and Hellblade 2 are some of the highest-profile projects in the works at the many studios Microsoft has snatched up in recent years, but the platform has struggled at times to translate such acquisitions into system-selling releases. As the company now seeks to close its record-setting Activision acquisition, West says Xbox has all of these studios "because we sit in a very unique place in the industry."

"Xbox is really the only brand that sits at an intersection, not an endpoint," he argues. "And by that I mean it's an intersection of PC gamers and console gamers, an intersection of different types of hardware. It's an intersection of different types of games, service games, Minecraft or Sea of Thieves. Single-player experiences like Starfield, or even Forza Motorsport, which is kind of between service and single-player experiences. But you think about Hellblade, another good example of a single-player experience. Eventually it will be mobile games, but it's also games that span broader-interest consumers like Minecraft or Party Animals. 

"And so we sit at an intersection which creates a responsibility around building different types of games and having different types of studios with creative capabilities that are unique and different. And so we really view that breadth of studios as a real differentiator for us in our brand, because it enables us to tell so many different types of stories." 

After the disappointing release of Redfall, another chunk of the Zenimax-Bethesda buyout, Starfield has faced extra scrutiny and heightened expectations, with Xbox executives and players both clearly hungry for a win. If the sci-fi RPG is as good as Bethesda's own executives say it is, and if Xbox can indeed preserve the momentum of its long-awaited launch, 2024 could well be a banner year for Xbox. 

Read up on all the big news coming out of the event with our Gamescom 2023 live coverage.  

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.

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