One of the ways developers tinker with new hardware and tools is to see how their old games work on them. That was part of the impetus behind Naughty Dog’s PlayStation 4 port of The Last of Us. It’s not terribly surprising, then, that Bethesda got The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim working on the Xbox One as they began to explore the new hardware early in Fallout 4‘s development.
Speaking with Game Informer, Fallout 4 director Todd Howard said that the team didn’t have any commercial intent with the project, and that it was purely an exercise to become familiar with the hardware.
That said, Howard said this in an interview with a massive publication read by millions and knew what he was saying. He said “Don’t get your hopes up yet” about the idea of the port becoming commercially available, while simultaneously informing his core consumer base about the existence of it. I’d guess he knew what he was doing – putting the idea out there and letting fans demand it, rather than simply releasing it. With Fallout 4 just days away, a new Elder Scrolls game is likely not going to be here until close to 2020. A Skyrim port would give fans something to chew on for a while, and a good chunk of the work is already done.