Dragon Age veteran says sequel announcements like The Elder Scrolls 6 can be "kind of misleading" because most studios don't make multiple games at once

Dragon Age: The Veilguard screenshot showing Solas, a pale bald Elven mage, wielding lightning-like powers while grimacing
(Image credit: BioWare)

Former Dragon Age executive producer Mark Darrah, who left BioWare in December 2020 but returned last year as a consultant on Dragon Age: The Veilguard. says today's big games are often announced prematurely, leading to the illusion that they're in development for exorbitant lengths of time.

Talking on his 'Mark Darrah on Games' podcast (timestamped here), Darrah spent some length of time explaining why it feels like AAA games take way longer to make than before. He argued that, in some big-name cases at least, they're simply being announced long before development really begins in earnest because most major studios are only equipped to fully develop one project at a time. He used Bethesda games and The Elder Scrolls 6, specifically, as examples, but he implied it's an issue not limited to any one game studio.

"Most studios are a lot more serial than they are parallel," Darrah explained. "What I mean by that is they really only work on one, or a little bit more than one, title at a time. So when Skyrim ships, and they've done the patching and they've done the DLC, that team, for the most part, is moving on to something else. It might be moving on to Fallout, or Elder Scrolls Online, or Starfield. Very few people are actually staying on the sequel to that game that just released. In the case of Bethesda, the key leadership is moving on and is spending very little of their attention on that sequel. There might be a small, nascent seed of a team, but really there isn't any work being done for quite a long time."

Bethesda revealed The Elder Scrolls 6's first teaser to a rabid fanbase way back at E3 2018 - six years ago, if you're counting. In the years since we've been slowly drip-fed tiny morsels of information from various members of the development team, but we've yet to see a full-on trailer, release date, key plot and gameplay details, characters, none of that. 

The last we heard on release timing was Xbox saying it wouldn't come out until at least 2026, and if video game release dates over the last decade have taught us one thing, it's that initial estimates are more often than not too optimistic. Darrah went as far as to pretty directly indicate that Bethesda was "misleading" fans by teasing Elder Scrolls 6 so far from any feasible release date.


(Image credit: Bethesda)

"And studios can be kind of misleading on this front, because they'll say things like 'We've started work on Elder Scrolls 6' or they might even release a trailer for the game even though the current team size is under 10 people," Darrah said. "So they're getting the impression that this is parallel development, that the team is working on this game, when in fact it's a few people having a few meetings and not much is being done."

Darrah did qualify his apparent criticism somewhat by acknowledging two big reasons video game companies announce their biggest games so early in their development cycles. Naturally, the reason will vary greatly depending on whether it's the development or publishing side pushing the reveal, but it's rarely because they simply want to mislead fans.

"It might be because the publisher feels like its slate is a little weak and it wants people to remember that it still has some important games in its back pocket. It might be because the studio wants the game to be announced because it's worried the publisher is going to kill it otherwise" Still, he added it's "not usually the best strategy from the perspective of building up attention and hype for the title itself."

Darrah, meanwhile, returned to BioWare to help out with Dragon Age: Veilguard, previously informally referred to as Dragon Age 4. He recently heaped praise on the re-invented combat system, saying it "finally bridges the gap" presumably between the acclaimed storytelling and the traditionally not as acclaimed combat. He also said it's "the best Dragon Age game" he's ever played. It's worth noting that Dragon Age 4 itself was first revealed in 2018 and is slated for release this Fall.

Find out which Bethesda games and which BioWare games made our list of the best RPGs to play today.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.