Why Skyrim Just Won’t Die
By now, everybody has played The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or at least heard of the infamous “arrow to the knee” meme. (Seriously, it’s just pop culture at this point.) But what makes this game so special and why is it a no brainer for people to still buy these new editions upon release?
Let’s take a look at this gaming phenomenon and legendary legacy that will have touched the heart of gamers worldwide.
To sum Skyrim in a few words:
To begin, Bethesda has released this game none less than SIX times by now: Skyrim Original, Skyrim Legendary Edition (DLCs included), Skyrim Special Edition (Remaster and mods for consoles), The Elder Scrolls Anthology (Arena, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim), Skyrim VR and the latest, Skyrim for Switch. After a 85 million dollar budget, 3 and a half years of development and almost 7 years of existence (released in 2011), Skyrim has sold over 20 million copies and is in the top bestselling games of all times.
Now, I love Skyrim. In fact, it is undoubtedly one of my favourite games of all times. Its expansive world is fascinating, brimming with adventures and surprises awaiting you at every turn. The lore, complex and filled with political clashes, the enchanting soundtrack, the gorgeous graphics and attention to detail have me yearning to revisit Tamriel on a regular basis to delve into its rewarding exploration-based universe.
You may ask why Skyrim is still relevant today. Truth be told, Skyrim’s main story is decent but it’s when you go off the beaten path that the game truly shines. The open world is your playground; you create your own character and live the adventure you want. And that makes the game so incredibly replayable. Also, after more than six years, fans have become lenient. The game has its share amount of bugs and glitches but somehow, the re-releases leave them be, just like a spider web hanging in the corner of your bedroom. You see it but you pay it no mind. We all heard the phrase “It’s not a bug; it’s a feature!” to justify that if it’s not downright broken, they don’t fix it.
And mostly, just think of how Sony used Skyrim to promote the Playstation VR or how Nintendo still featured Skyrim in its Switch marketing campaign. Even today, this game manages to get people excited to buy new consoles, which is in itself a pretty big accomplishment.
The modding community
But what would Skyrim be without its modding community? There are so many talented people who tremendously help in keeping this game fresh and exciting. Actually, scratch that. I daresay they are arguably one of the reasons for Skyrim’s impressive longevity. With over 50 000 mods under their belt, they are among the most dedicated and loyal videogame fan bases I’ve known. To this day, they keep creating new, original and engaging content that can extend the playtime by hundreds of hours (It is worthy to mention that the vanilla game can already last for hundreds of hours). This may explain why Bethesda does not feel the need to upgrade or revamp the game more.
Speaking of, I do somehow take offense in Bethesda’s laziness. Let me explain. Releasing the same game over six times? That is fine because Skyrim is a quality game with immense replay value. But what about new quests to tackle, characters to meet, lands to explore? They have re-released the game several times now and each one had me hoping for new content, significant improvements or additions. Sure, we got a graphical overhaul in the Special Edition’s remaster, with better lighting and textures, but I must admit I saw some preexisting overhauls mods that were just as beautiful, if not better. Apart from that, they finally introduced the ability to download mods for consoles. While this is great for Playstation and Xbox gamers who were missing out on all the fun (Who wouldn’t want Thomas the Tank Engine as dragons?), I cannot help but roll my eyes at Bethesda. I mean, they are not even hiding the substantial contribution of the modders to their game at this point.
When all has been said and done:
All that being said, I know the game is successful. I know it will sell no matter what they do. But I feel like although Bethesda knows we are gamers and fans, they forget that we are also consumers. We are aware and demanding, more so than ever. It is no wonder that games like Mass Effect: Andromeda, No Man’s Sky and Sea of Thieves get criticized; developers cannot sell us unpolished disappointing products under the guise of big promises if they won’t follow through with them. We know what we want and what we deserve.
The ultimate problem is that despite knowing all of this, looking past lazy development and obvious marketing… People. Still. Buy. This. Game. And for Bethesda, THAT is the no brainer: They will keep porting Skyrim as long as people keep buying Skyrim.
With that said, am I still excited about the next Skyrim port?