You'd think that Todd Howard and Bethesda would be rushing to compete with the likes of Witcher, Dragon Age's revival and more and more developers creating rich and vibrant medieval RPG's. But instead, much to gamers chagrin, Bethesda seems to be entirely focused on going the way of Valve and developing remasters and VR content. So what exactly is the fate of the much beloved and critically celebrated series? Well it's not to say there is no hope, just do not expect Elder Scrolls 6 anytime soon.
Bethesda Has No Financial Reason to Release It:
Let us face facts, most people would consider Elder Scrolls to be a financial door buster for the developer and their pockets. And yes while that is a fair thing to assume we have to look at the company as a whole and why exactly Bethesda is content to continue riding the success of Skyrim for the next couple years. Firstly and foremost, Bethesda has other development studios still creating content. We have Wolfenstein, Dishonored, Evil Within, Doom and Prey. All of which are confirmed to be series and getting future installments and all of which have received huge financial and critical success. But it's not even just the games, Bethesda develops games that require a usual budget of around 1 to 10 million depending on if the game releases on time or not and this may seem like a big number but consider that most games nowadays have a development budget of close to an average of 20 million. Bethesda is able to do this due to the complete lack of outsourcing that they have; they employed competent programmers, their own game engine and publish their own game releases so they save millions (bear in mind I'm basing this off of older info and I believe Wolfenstein and Doom both had budgets of around 30 million). So yes, people naturally assume that Bethesda would want the financial success of Elder Scrolls to maintain their studio and create more critical success; but sadly they just do not need it. Especially with Elder Scrolls: Online still raking in close to 10 million annually since it released and having met with some decent critical success and a dedicated fan following it's keeping Elder Scrolls alive.
It Detracts From Their Other Production:
This is probably the biggest and most obvious reason people will immediately think of when discussing the future of Elder Scrolls. Bethesda is a big studio and can support multiple creative teams for different releases, but Elder Scrolls is one of the more taxing games that they develop and usually requires the entire team to be working on it or at the very least about 60% of the teams working on it in their off time. This is hugely doubled in being problematic considering that in order to develop Elder Scrolls 6 they would need the current team managing ESO to work on it as well. And since ESO is an MMO with near constant updates, events and patches it's difficult to justify pulling them from that project and sticking them on another Elder Scrolls when there is just no reason for it. And, in reference back to earlier, they have multiple sequels planned for games that more fresh in the community's minds. It just makes no sense to focus the effort when it is not needed, no matter how much they know the community wants a proper Skyrim follow up.
There Is A Lot More Competition Then Before:
Here's the reason that I constantly get shit on for bringing up in conversation as to why I do not believe Bethesda is focusing on Elder Scrolls and it's rather simple in my head; they fear that Elder Scrolls will now be viewed as inferior to their rivals. Think about it, there's three primary reasons that the community has started to stray and look down on Bethesda's flagship series. First, they realize that the story telling is rather weak in comparison to bigger games. I may be alone in this notion but for the life of me I can remember maybe two parts in Skyrim's story that will stick with me and make me remember it fondly; Paarthunax 's wisdom and the opening dragon attack. See, Skyrim for me was just not cinematic and engaging enough to hold my attention. And I found the story was too meandering and felt like a half assed effort since they knew probably roughly 90% of the community was not even going to finish it. And then the community received Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, Dragon Age Inquisition and Dark Souls III all of which held a more cinematically infused story with proper cutscenes, varied voice actors and incredible vibrant and rich worlds to explore and conquer. And the reviews from both fans and critics show just how much they enjoyed these games and they started to show the flaws in Elder Scroll's design. And that is not even mentioning the master piece that is Witcher 3. Second reason, the community has just gotten sick of Todd Howard's lack of fan appreciation. Todd Howard used to be a legend amongst the community. He was the pinnacle of fan service, always had an engaging E3 presence and always made the gamers feel cared and loved by the studio. Lately he just seems to be a mouth-piece with little to no regard for the content he's essentially in charge of creating. He has repeatedly stated that Elder Scrolls 6 is coming no time soon, that they want to focus on more online content and that they plan to move more and more into the VR market and develop technology much like Valve did. This has led to a big dissension in the ranks of Bethesda's varied and dedicated fan base. They want to be there and they want to be included but they see the indifference and apathy that has overcome Howard and they're starting to lose faith. Third and maybe biggest reason, people are sick and goddamn tired of the same game being released every year and literally being ignored by the company. Let us just consider Bethesda's utter disregard for new content; Skyrim was released 6 years ago and since then has had roughly 6 re-releases only half of which even included the full DLC. And the community has gotten completely and utterly sick of it and frankly I have as well.
Elder Scrolls Has Started To Show It's Age:
Elder Scrolls is considered by many to be timeless and a game series that will stand the test of time, but... Will it? Now this part is purely personal opinion so if you do not want to have the argument I would recommend just skipping this part. I am of the opinion that Elder Scrolls is a good game and it is worth a play through and a spot on your self. However, it simply does not stand the test of quality not only in comparison to itself but also to it's rivals and counterparts. So yes, Elder Scrolls does three things very well. It's music is simply astounding and the sheer beauty it invokes is tantamount to John Williams and Hans Zimmer at their best. It's literal no hands holding approach to exploring the world and literally having the freedom to go wherever the hell you want is enticing and awesome. Lastly, it has an extensive lore that once you go down the rabbit hole is difficult to get out of. And here comes the harsh part, that is truly the only good parts of Elder Scrolls that has stood the test of time. The combat is ultra light and feels like you're just swinging a stick through air with no real repercussion and weight. The magic is simple and really does not feel like true magic (Except the fire, that shit is fucking awesome). the voice actors are just way overused, seriously like every other character is the same voice actor repeating the same monotone instructions. The game engine is just showing it's age, the vistas are still gorgeous but the engine is just not standing up to the test of time. The game is STILL buggy as all goddamn hell. I understand that some people just find the glitches hilarious but I ended up having to create multiple saves because it kept deleting them, half the dungeons would break when I tried to beat them and near 60% of the NPCs would not react to my quest steps qualifications etcetera. There is just so much of the game that they could have ironed out and they never did. I mean Christ, this game had damn near 12 years of development. And that's not even mentioning that outside of the lore there is just no interesting story to find in Elder Scrolls (and yes I know I brought that up before). I would say I'm sorry but honestly I think people just vastly over praise this game and ignore it's enormous flaws. I enjoy walking around the world and listening to it's jaw dropping atmosphere but compared to the emotionally charged and well told stories, world building, characterization, lore infused side quests and excellent weighty and fluid combat of Witcher, Dragon Age and Dark Souls there just is no valid comparison.
Elder Scrolls could learn a lot from it's fans and rivals and yet Bethesda is probably never going to release a sixth entry, and if they do we probably have at least 4 to 6 years until we even get a trailer.
I love a good fantasy game and I sincerely hope Bethesda takes the time to develop a true next gen Elder Scrolls. Me and my opinion, I am not holding my breath.