So long, Dovahkiin. So long, Skyrim. Bethesda announced today that development for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has ended in all capacities and the team has moved on. While they assure fans that "minor updates" to Skyrim will be released as necessary, and that it's impossible to ever truly say goodbye to it, Bethesda's teary eyes are firmly set looking forward. It's time for the "next adventure" and Bethesda Game Studios asks us to patiently wait until then.
All of Bethesda's heartfelt letter to fans can be read over on their blog. It's very much an endearing letter of thanks and promise, it's easy to tell just how much Bethesda cares about the Skyrim community. Here's a portion of the letter:
"We loved hearing your stories, your in-game triumphs, and your suggestions. One thing stuck out to us through those emails, letters, and postings. And that is – video games matter. They’re as important to you as they are to us. It’s not just about entertainment, it’s about your time. And you chose to spend it with our game.
"Thank you again for all your support. We hope you stay engaged in the gaming community here and elsewhere. Keep spreading the word. Games are the world’s best entertainment because they can do what other forms cannot – fill you with the wonder of exploration and the pride of accomplishment. We look forward to sharing our next adventure with you."
As for details on what comes next, Bethesda says that they've had parts of their team in pre-production on "our next major project" and that it now requires the attention of the full team. What sort of game will it be? It's unlikely even Bethesda knows entirely at this point. They've got a long road ahead of them, but they're undoubtedly dedicated to the task.
It took 4 years for Bethesda Game Studios to release Oblivion after Morrowind and then five years for Skyrim after Oblivion. We're only a year and a half out from Skyrim's release (has it really been so long?), so it's important to understand the more subtle implication of this letter. Bethesda isn't saying stay-tuned, they're saying goodbye. It's entirely possible we won't hear from the Skyrim team again until 2015 or beyond.
Of course, Bethesda should know by now that we're always willing to wait for anything they're willing to dedicate their time to. Until then, there's a franchise of excellent Elder Scrolls still here to play. One adventure isn't ending here, only for us to wait for the next. The adventure continues and we're still free to immerse ourselves in it. Good luck, Bethesda!