Starfield review code withheld from major UK sites including The Guardian and Rock Paper Shotgun

Starfield concept art

Media outlets such as Edge, Eurogamer and The Guardian say they have received Starfield review code late, or not at all.


The review embargo for Starfield, one of the most hotly anticipated games of the current generation, lifts at midday (Eastern Time) on Thursday 31st August, ahead of the game’s Early Access launch for Premium Edition purchasers eight hours later. But several major UK news outlets have said they won’t have reviews ready to go at this time, since Bethesda hasn’t sent them review code.

Eurogamer published an article explaining why the site’s review will be late. “Access to the game appears to have been heavily restricted in the UK, where Bethesda has also not provided copies of Starfield to other websites and YouTube channels owned by Eurogamer parent company Reedpop,” wrote editor-in-chief Tom Phillips. “Throughout the past two weeks, since copies of the game were made available to the media, I’ve spent hours trying to discuss the issue with Bethesda, and the matter has been repeatedly flagged to both Bethesda and Microsoft at senior levels.”

Interestingly, Bethesda provided review code to Digital Foundry, the technical analysis group whose work is typically published on the Eurogamer site, but gave strict instructions that this code was not to be shared, according to Phillips. “You should expect to see relatively prompt coverage of the game by Rich and his team after a separate delivery of Starfield code was provided to them,” he said. “However, this was provided alongside instruction to me by Bethesda that no other parts of Eurogamer were granted access. This was an unprecedented request, but one I ultimately felt compelled to honour to ensure the access granted to Digital Foundry was not subsequently impacted by any other mandate.”

Around an hour after this article was published, Eurogamer was finally sent a Starfield review code by Bethesda, two days before the review embargo lifts.

Other UK media outlets have reported a similar situation. Rock Paper Shotgun editor Katherine Castle wrote that the site’s Starfield review would be delayed owing to the absence of review code. “I wish things had turned out differently for what’s arguably one of the biggest PC games of the year, but there you have it,” she said.

Keza MacDonald, games editor at The Guardian, also said her publication hadn’t received review code in a message on X (aka Twitter): “I have no idea why, but given that I was editor at Kotaku for years and Bethesda famously were not fans of ours, I can make an educated guess,” she said. Edge deputy editor Chris Schilling noted on X that his magazine was denied Starfield code, too.

It’s worth emphasising that game companies have absolutely no obligation to provide review code to media outlets. Bethesda is free to give code to whoever it wants. But I’d also argue that holding back code from certain publications isn’t a great look.

Read more: Xbox Game Pass £1 trial disappears ahead of the launch of Starfield

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