Shortly after the game’s launch PS3 owners started to report that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim became unplayable due to horrible lag that turned the game into a virtual slideshow. Now that the 1.4 patch has fixed the game for the majority of users, Bethesda has spoke up to clarify the situation on the PS3 and to try to explain what happened.
Speaking to Kotaku at the DICE Summit last week, Bethesda’s Todd Howard addressed the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim, saying:
“We did a ton more testing this time around, so the game is definitely our most solid release regardless of platform… The way our dynamic stuff and our scripting works, it’s obvious it gets in situations where it taxes the PS3. And we felt we had a lot of it under control. But for certain users it literally depends on how they play the game, varied over a hundred hours and literally what spells they use. Did they go in this building? [etc.]”
“[It wasn't due to the game's large save files] That’s the common misconception. It’s literally the things you’ve done in what order and what’s running. Some of the things are literally what spells do you have hot-keyed? Because, as you switch to them, they handle memory differently.”
“The 1.2 patch [released in November] took care of a lot of it… [But not all of it] We didn’t know why. So they sent us their saved games.”
“[The new 1.4 patch] takes care of those we have seen that are bad. So we’re very confident a lot more people are going to be in a very good situation, but we’re not … [pause] Now that we’ve been through this, we’re not naïve enough to say, ‘We have seen everything,’ because we have to assume we haven’t. There are still going to be some people who have to come back to us and say, ‘Ok, my situation is this.’ [Our response is:] ‘OK, send us your saved game.’ We literally need to look at what you have running. We tried doing it through e-mail. We need to open the saved game comes up and look at it. We’ve got one guy who has seven dragons on the other side of the world, and a siege about to happen in this city and another 20 quests running. And, ok, this is what the game is trying to do and it’s having a hard time running that.”
A Bethesda rep later clarified Howard’s comments, saying “The team knew the PlayStation 3 version could run into a “bad memory situation” and they coded solutions that they felt would work – and in their tests the solutions did work. Post release a “small percentage” of users were still experiencing issues where it couldn’t keep up, and the team is working hard on solving it.”
Most reports indicate that the 1.4 patch has indeed fixed the majority of issues on the PS3 version of Skyrim and the game is now playable for most people. It remains to be seen if this situation has caused any long-term damage to Bethesda’s reputation and we likely won’t know for sure until we see how PS3 gamers react to their next title.