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Does Bethesda hate the PS3?

RIOT OF JOY - Ramon De Veyra -

Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim sold seven million units in under a week (at the suggested retail price of $60), with over 50 perfect review scores from various publications, print and online. Sounds like the requirements for a video game success, right? Except a sizable number of those units are broken. Specifically, the Playstation 3 version of Skyrim, which unfortunate customers and fans of the franchise had to discover for themselves firsthand.

The problem begins once you’ve logged about 60 hours of game time. Being an expansive, open-ended role-playing game, 60 hours isn’t uncommon. But by then, your save file gets to a size (typically around 6MB) where extreme lag begins to occur, apart from other annoying bugs like massive clipping (where objects seem to pierce “through” one another), physics problems (horses at impossible angles), and minor characters disappearing altogether! The lag is the worst offender, with framerates dropping like nobody’s business, from the should-be-steady 30 frames a second occasionally stuttering to zero(!), effectively making for a hung game that needs a restart. Some players have reported needing to do this every two to four hours of gameplay.

Those 50-plus perfect review scores almost all came from Xbox 360 versions of the game. Tellingly, no PS3 copies were handed out for review. Which begs the question: were Bethesda aware of the problems with the PS3 version? Is that why they withheld PS3 versions for review? If that’s true, then you have a case for the publisher maliciously releasing a game it knew to be broken. The sad part is, this may not be without precedent. Bethesda’s “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas” also had problematic PS3 versions, with much the same glitches being reported in Skyrim. Despite releasing patches for the two games, the problems persist.

You could be having a perfectly normal conversation with someone and then they begin floating into the air.

Bethesda put out two patches since Skyrim’s release, but neither has fixed the framerate issues. Indeed, one (1.2) instead contributed new problems to the mix, like dragons flying backwards. The whole debacle mars what should have been one of gaming’s finest releases of last year. No one doubts the game is great, it’s just that PS3 users can’t get it to run properly. They paid the full price and are getting a broken product. Why can’t Bethesda make workable PS3 versions of their games? And when will Sony hold them accountable? Will it require a class-action lawsuit from the many disgruntled players who devoted days of their lives to Skyrim only to have it begin to slow down to a crippling runtime? Bethesda saw success from Doom and Quake, but at this point their reputation is skewing toward the negative, with game after game experiencing problems. It’s a betrayal of the very players that made them a well-known developer to begin with.

BETHESDA

DOOM AND QUAKE

ELDER SCROLLS V

GAME

NEW VEGAS

PLAYSTATION

PS3

SKYRIM

SONY

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