Skyrim's game director Todd Howard has said that Bethesda isn't ruling out multiplayer in a future Elder Scrolls release, providing it doesn't compromise the franchise's acclaimed single player.
"You can never say never to anything like that," he told Joystiq (via CVG), "but it's not what our focus is. This type of game is where our hearts are, what we get excited about, and that's what we want to focus on.
"We don't want to lose that focus and we never want to sacrifice anything in the singleplayer game just to have it be multiplayer."
Howard also reiterated Bethesda's commitment to relatively infrequent yet more substantial Skyrim DLC. The publisher is thinking of "ways to make the game better, not just have more, because the game is so big.
"So we're going through ideas right now, and processing everything people are doing in the game, and trying to think of ways that we can improve it."
Enterprising hackers discovered low resolution models of Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion's Imperial City and Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind's Solstheim and Vvardenfell on the Skyrim disc last month. It's possible they're the building blocks for Skyrim's first few DLC packs.