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Bethesda will stop rereleasing Skyrim when you stop buying it

Skyrim
(Image credit: Bethesda)

To celebrate the game’s 10th anniversary, Bethesda will release The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition on November 11. This will mark the fourth time that Bethesda has rereleased Skyrim since its initial debut in 2011, and will mean that eight consoles fully support the game. 

At this point, it’s hard to believe that anyone who wants to play Skyrim hasn’t yet, particularly since it’s easily available through subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And yet, Bethesda has made it clear that it will keep rereleasing Skyrim as long as players keep buying it.

First and foremost, if you want to learn more about Skyrim Anniversary Edition, you can follow its ongoing QuakeCon stream on Twitch. That’s where we first heard about Skyrim’s latest update, although the official PlayStation Blog has also provided the information in an easily digestible format. 

Basically, Skyrim Anniversary Edition will optimize the game for Xbox Series X/S and PS5 consoles, while bunding all existing DLC and adding 500 pieces of “Creation Club” content. These are fan mods that Bethesda liked enough to include in an official version of the game.

If you already own the Skyrim Special Edition, these upgrades will be free; if not, Bethesda hasn’t yet revealed the full game’s price. If you don’t have a next-gen console, you’ll also be able to buy Skyrim Anniversary Edition on PC, PS4 or Xbox One. (No word on the Switch version yet — or the Alexa skill.)

It’s also worth noting that while Skyrim isn’t optimized for either the PS5 or Xbox Series X/S at present, it’s perfectly playable on both, thanks to backwards compatibility. While it may seem strange for Bethesda to put time and effort into rereleasing a game that’s so easy to play on modern consoles, the explanation is very simple — and it comes straight from the director of Bethesda.

In 2018, Elder Scrolls fans wanted to know why the company put so much effort into Skyrim, which was already seven years old at the time. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Bethesda director Todd Howard summed it up simply:

“Millions of people every month are playing that game,” Howard said. “That’s why we keep releasing it. If you want us to stop releasing it, stop buying it.”

Going by Steam stats, Skyrim isn’t quite as popular today as it was in 2018, but it’s still doing remarkably well for a 10-year-old single-player game. The game had about 15,000 players per week two years ago vs. 10,000 players per week today — and that’s not counting consoles, which may have received a big influx of Skyrim players when the game joined Xbox Game Pass.

In other words, unless Bethesda’s operating principles have completely changed in the last two years, it’s re-releasing Skyrim because people are still playing it. That’s the reason it re-released Skyrim in 2017; that’s the reason it re-released Skyrim in 2016; that’s the reason it’s tried to keep the game fresh with a drip-feed of content and improvements for a whole decade.

You, personally, may or may not buy the Skyrim Anniversary Edition. But statistically speaking, a lot of people will. And that’s why we will probably be seeing small Skyrim updates until The Elder Scrolls 6 finally comes out.

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Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.