The Bethesda Dilemma: PS3 Owners Are Second Class Citizens

The Bethesda Dilemma: PS3 Owners Are Second Class Citizens

The Bethesda Dilemma: PS3 Owners Are Second Class Citizens

Wayne Santos

Wayne quickly realized after being stuffed into his first locker that he was Too-Cool-For-Not-School.
The Bethesda Dilemma: PS3 Owners Are Second Class Citizens

This is a topic that I’ve written about in the past, and I was hoping that with the launch of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, it was a topic that was closed and didn’t require any further poking at. Unfortunately I was wrong, and an old wound has re-opened, which makes me wonder just how long PS3 owners should continue to tolerate the problem.

The gist of the matter is that when it comes to the PS3, Bethesda is an abusive partner that continues punish its audience, and that same audience—as well others on the outside—make excuses, apologize for the problem, and ultimately take on the blame, claiming that it’s not Bethesda’s fault. I’m speaking, of course, about Bethesda’s notorious history this generation for producing PS3 versions of their games that are so buggy they hamper enjoyment at best and make the experience nearly unplayable at worst.

This time out—in retrospect with great foolishness—I gave them the benefit of the doubt. There were claims that the game was running on a new engine. That, to my mind, should have solved a lot of problems. However, it later came to light that this new “Creation” engine was actually a heavily modified version of the original Gamebryo engine that had already been the cause of many problems on the PS3. This gave me pause for thought, but I decided that with past errors so well documented, Bethesda would move forward with greater foresight, to avoid the problems that plagued first Fallout 3 and then the effort they handed over to Obsidian, Fallout: New Vegas. This was a new game, with a mostly new engine, it was a new start, right?

Months passed, more of Skyrim was revealed, and we attended various events where the game was shown. It was always shown on the Xbox 360. This made me uneasy. While Bethesda took great pains to have a large presence at the Microsoft X11 event in Toronto, just a couple of months later for the Sony Holiday Preview event, they were conspicuously absent. If you didn’t know any better, Skyrim wasn’t coming to the PS3 at all. Bethesda seemed curiously unwilling to promote the product on the Sony platform, at least in Canada. It was a natural thing to wonder at why this was the case.

With that in mind, we put in our request to Bethesda for a review copy of Skyrim, but we specified we wanted the PS3 version, to see how things had improved from past games. We were told our request had been accepted and we were down for the PS3 version. We checked this repeatedly and were told, yes, we’re getting the PS3 version. When the time came, we received the Xbox 360 version instead with no explanation.

Of course for me, the alarm bells were ringing by now, but I tried telling myself that there might still be a chance this was just some kind of administrative or clerical error. I was still curious to see how the PS3 version held up after all my past extremely negative experiences, so I decided to simply use a copy, bought from a store, to find out for myself.

The first few hours, I had never been more happy to be wrong. Skyrim impressed with its scope, its detail and immersion. As the hours passed, that happy glow dimmed as the game—with alarming regularity—froze while loading me into new areas. I watched my save file get larger and larger and the errors became more frequent and noticeable. Quests not starting, quests unable to be finished despite the fact that object the character wanted was in my hands. Quest items that should have been removed from my inventory, permanently stuck there. Dragons slain but the game wouldn’t let me absorb their soul and consequently spawned the body over and over again at the town of Whiterun, usually at the entrance. And, most depressingly of all, the choppiness. The frame-rate dropping, approaching the likeness of a slide-show only to be rectified, temporarily, by a complete quit out and reload of the game.

In other words, the same error that had plagued the previous two games was still alive and well in Skyrim. After three games and much anguish on the part of PS3 owners, Bethesda knew about the error, but simply didn’t care enough to fix it. What made all this even more depressing was they had so little confidence in their PS3 product that they knew better than to send it to our publication for review. They had hoped we would simply accept the 360 version and not experience the bugginess of the PS3 version for ourselves. That says a lot about a company and its own lack of faith in its product that they would resort to such tactics.

By this point, I have to wonder why they have so many problems with PS3 development that—even with literally years of time to analyze the problem, and creating a new engine—they still can’t achieve parity with the PC and Xbox 360. Are they punishing PS3 owners for owning the “wrong” system? Perhaps they are making indirect comments about either the intelligence or financial condition of people that only own one console and that is not the Xbox 360? For three titles, Bethesda has been impairing the PS3 experience of their games, making it clear that if you want to enjoy a Bethesda game, you have to play it on some other machine. And while they clearly have nothing against taking the money of PS3 owners, they seem to be disappointed with the fact that they have to cater to that audience at all. It is a chore to them, something they almost resent. While their words they have urged all players to enjoy the game on three different platforms, in practice, they are making it obvious that they have little concern, or maybe even active dislike, for people that bought the “wrong,” console, the Sony console. They don’t like the machine, and they clearly don’t care enough about its audience to ensure they enjoy their experience, but they won’t say “no” to the money these people offer them. It feels a bit like the contempt a drug dealer might have for his low income customers, wishing they would go away quickly but needing as much of their cash as possible.

Bethesda understands that multi-platform titles mean more money. But that doesn’t mean they have to like or care about the customers that come to them from the “wrong” side of the tracks and in this case that is PS3 owners. This time out, there’s more outcry from other media outlets, not just our own, which seems to have prompted Bethesda to claim that some action is being taken. But I doubt the effectiveness of their efforts. If this is a problem that they have been unable to solve for five years, how can they now suddenly solve it in less than five weeks? When DLC started releasing for the PS3 version of Fallout 3, this same problem of performance issues tied to large save files was so severe it made the game unplayable. Bethesda did nothing to fix that. It was on the PS3, if consumers were dumb enough to choose that console, it wasn’t their problem.

Now that they’ve shown their contempt for PS3 owners once again, I find their announcement of a patch does little to inspire my confidence. Can problems as numerous as the one’s I’ve encountered be solved by one patch? Can a patch be made that quickly, and if so, why was it never done for the previous games?

I love playing Bethesda games. I just wish they’d be more upfront and either make games only for the Xbox 360 and PC, or else announce ahead of time that players should avoid the PS3 version if at all possible because it’s a buggy mess that is likely to remain that way. I know they’re not going to do either of those things for marketing or financial reasons, but their actions in recent years have more or less said as much far more loudly than their official comments.

 

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21 comments

  1. Waver

    Gamers toletate Bethesda because they're backed by the Media.

    Oh, it's a good game! You just bought the "wrong version". Don't forget PS3 sucks…

    The excuse above is what I've observed to occur in gaming forums.

    XBox gamers are using this game to take shots on the PS3 and it's purchasers.

    However, they forget that their version is just as buggy.

  2. mantas

    bethesda is the gayest fuckin publisher known to man, let them rot. dark souls is the better rpg this season.

  3. Waver

    Gamers toletate Bethesda because they’re backed by the Media.

    Oh, it’s a good game! You just bought the “wrong version”. Don’t forget PS3 sucks…

    The excuse above is what I’ve observed to occur in gaming forums.

    XBox gamers are using this game to take shots on the PS3 and it’s purchasers.

    However, they forget that their version is just as buggy.

  4. wtf bethesda

    People need to report the game to the correct officials. And make the officials get Bethesda to stop this from happening again. Releasing an incomplete game is illegal.

  5. BallSoccer

    I don't think it's JUST Bethesda, it's EVERY non-PS3-exclusive developer out there. They treat PS3 versions like weekend chores.

  6. Rattus

    Couldn't agree more. I'm sick of being lied to about the PS3 versions of their games being equal to the xbox and pc verisions. Just to have them take my money and basically spit in my face by giving me an unplayable game.

  7. nick

    your an idiot, i have the ps3 version. Sure it gets laggy so I take 2 minutes and reload my system. It's that fucking easy.

  8. Rudey

    Well, I own the xbox version and my sister owns the ps3 version and they are both the same. This game isn't meant for console period.

    They tailor to the PC gamers, and leave console gamers in the dust. And it's not just Bethesda…Bioware games suck on xbox and ps3 to.

  9. AnOptimist

    Those well informed of console hardware and game development know that developing for the PS3 is (in most cases) about as easy and intuitive as riding a unicycle whilst juggling bricks. The PC and Xbox have similar hardware (aside from the fact the 360 runs PowerPC and the PC runs x86), where they each have multiple strong CPU cores. The PS3 has one strong CPU core and about six weaker cores, that have to be painstakingly balanced and coordinated. Not to mention, the PS3 GPU is fairly… meh. Multiplatform developers have a lot to overcome when porting to the PS3, and some graphics engines just don't make the transition very smoothly.

    It should also be noted that all versions of the game have a LOT of bugs. I run it on PC and OH GOD it's buggy sometimes.

    Anyone who's ever played a Bethesda game will know that this is basically par for the course for them. Which is sort of understandable (however disapointing) given the scope of their games.

    We should wait and see what Bethesda does the game before starting this impromptu festival of rage. It should al be fixed in some timely patches.

    I hope.

  10. jamesjames22

    coudnt agree more, either make it right or dont even make it at all..

    honestly, all the bethesda game on ps3 is bugged/laggy/glitchy!

    just a coiencidence? i think not

  11. LBD

    Complete horse sh*t… Heres why..

    .

    BF3 better on PS3, dante's inferno better on PS3, Mass Effect 2 better on PS3, portal 2 better on PS3….This 100% proves your taking crap. It comes down to the developers NOT doing a good port, ect. Final Fantasy XIII is a sure sign of that.

  12. Andrew

    "This 100% proves your taking crap. It comes down to the developers NOT doing a good port, ect."

    How stupid are you? His ENTIRE article was about how Bethesda has royally screwed up the port of every single game to ps3. My god this world is doomed.

  13. Brandon

    I politely think you are wrong.

  14. Gerbal

    You're the idiot. People shouldn't have to re-start because of lag.

  15. Chris Adams

    wow lots of hired PR companies posting here to boost public opinion of this issue LOL

    or bots for those companies

    Battlefield 3 is not better on PS3 infact its worse, has input lag for start so controls are like killzone

  16. AnOptimist

    @Andrew

    I think he was talking to me.

    @LBD (assuming you are replying to me)

    Notice how I wrote "in most cases". I can't speak for any of the other games (and AFAIK, BF3 is not "better" on either console), but Mass Effect 2 was released a year after the 360 version, on a different graphics engine. Just google developing for the PS3, it's a good read. Developers are choosing to spend more time actually making the game rather than spending the time required to make a perfect PS3 port. It sucks, and boy do I know it (as a PC gamer, console ports suck), but Bethesda is not the only one doing it, this is not an isolated incident.

    We should wait and see what Bethesda does before setting off the tactical Nuclear Rage warhead.

  17. Tom

    well i think that if you are a game company and launch a title that has a; ps3 xbox logo; it should be a finished product ready to play “out of the box” which is not the case with Skyrim… not to mention that the pc version requires steam and a high speed internet connection (which many people dont have)

    so those of you who say “my copy on ps3 works great” are just a group of people who got an update that should had been included with the game (as in part of the games code)

    i say dont stand for it…. call Bethesda @ (301) 926 8300

    jeez when a dbz game works better without updates…..

  18. Rodney P. Eady

    I have wanted to post something like this on my site and you have given me an idea. Cheers.

  19. KingOfArcadia

    I only have two points to make: a). in general, people do not head to the internet to say "hey this game is working fine over here! nice job!' – what you get is the vocal minority that spews wherever they can, making it seem that more people are having issues than is actually the case, and b). if you really feel Bethesda is going out of it's way to screw over all the PS3 owners, why not start a movement of some sort to ask them not to release future games on PS3? It seems like that might solve your problems.

  20. JohnSmithy

    I love how even after many updates the PS3 version of the game still has issues. Bethesda need to work on supporting all platforms to ensure everyone is treated fairly

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