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Starfield download size is ten times bigger than Skyrim

Starfield dwarfing Skyrim's size requirement is a stark reminder of how much bigger games are than they used to be, and we examine why that's the case.

A man in a full space suit looks toward the camera.

Hey, you. You’re finally awake. Let me tell you a tale of videogame storage wars. From colossal, snow-capped mountains to verdant woodland and bustling towns, Skyrim’s 15 in-game square miles are crammed with quests, treasure, and places to explore. All that for a mere 12GB. A decade on from Skyrim’s release, Starfield wants to pick up where it left off. Swapping woods and mountains for nebulae and asteroid belts, Bethesda’s latest exploration-focused game clocks in at an enormous 125GB.

That’s a pretty hefty increase. But it’s not just Bethesda and Starfield culpable for ballooning storage requirements. The Star Wars Jedi Survivor system requirements, for example, stipulated a whopping 155GB spare space, a far cry from the now-modest Skyrim PC specs. It’s a clear industry trend: triple-A games getting bigger all the time.

What’s changed so much in a decade? Well, games are much more detailed, for a start. Nowadays, consumers expect a standard of graphics that requires dozens of gigabytes in environment assets, character models, and the rest. Also, huge, multi-terabyte drives are now accessible to your average gamer, so studios are less inclined to waste time and resources optimizing every last file to fit on your PC.

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Studios and launchers could easily team up to let you choose which of a game’s files you want to download, though. If you’re not going to play multiplayer, you could just download the campaign, for example. Maybe you’re just looking to play in good old 1080p – does it really make sense to force you to download all the 4K texture packs?

But the vast majority of games don’t have that option. The cynic in me wonders if this excessive bloating’s intentional. The bigger the games are, the fewer you can fit on your drive – that’s obvious. And I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty lazy when it comes to deleting and redownloading to ensure a fair rotation of the games I own: I tend to just stick to what I play most. That means storage-devouring crowd-pleasers like Call of Duty: Warzone stand a good chance of monopolizing your SSD.

At the end of the day, do we actually care that much? I used to be an advocate of better size optimization in videogames, but then I took an Arrow of Greater Apathy to the knee. If SSDs keep getting bigger and cheaper, and internet speeds keep getting faster, maybe it doesn’t matter that games continue their relentless march toward enormity. You’ve got to wonder if there isn’t a reckoning coming, but there’s not a lot we can do about it.

The Starfield release date will soon be on us, so make sure your rig’s ready to explore the universe from the comfort of your living room by checking out the Starfield system requirements. And check out our guide to the best gaming SSDs if you need more solid-state space to fit this monster of a game.