Here’s my experience of playing Fallout 3’s subsequent DLC on the Playstation 3.
Take the screen shots of the game you see on the internet, piece together pictures that look like they are part of the same game sequence. Now view one, pretend to press a button or move a stick, wait five to ten seconds, then change to the next picture. Repeat.
I was only able to finish Broken Steel because I kept pretending that I was actually participating in a futuristic slide-show presentation with some mild interactive elements. I could only play the game for a few minutes before it would freeze completely and necessitate a complete reboot of the entire console. It was, in short, a testimony to either how incompetent Bethesda’s QA team is, or else the fact that the PS3’s unique system architecture was so exotic that Bethesda was either unwilling—or unable—to craft their additional content around it in an optimized manner.
So when I heard the announcement that Bethesda was NOT going to be releasing downloadable content for the PS3 version of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, unlike many PS3 owners, I didn’t gnash my teeth with rage. Instead, I found myself mildly impressed with Bethesda’s honesty.
Bethesda has now earned a reputation for releasing the most malfunctioning content on the console; their games simply want to break when played on a PS3We’ll never know the full, technical reason for the decision, but plenty of educated guesses can be made. The PS3 version of the game was already horrendously buggy due to the—now almost obligatory—developer woe that the PS3 doesn’t have enough RAM. The addition of new content on top of existing content seems to compound this problem as it reliably results in a gradual slowdown of performance until the game simply cannot run anymore. This is what happened with Fallout 3 DLC which was belatedly released on the PS3 after a timed exclusivity deal ran its course. Despite the extra time, Bethesda was completely unable to head off one of the most disastrously buggy DLC releases ever seen in the history of the Playstation Network. Amongst PS3 owners, Bethesda has now earned a reputation for releasing the most malfunctioning content on the console; their games simply want to break when played on a PS3, and do so frequently. The DLC even moreso.
Despite having a talented, salaried staff that is paid to sit around and try to overcome these problems, it’s become apparent that, despite years of experience, Bethesda just can’t quite get their software to work right on the PS3. That’s why I think they’ve done the right thing in this instance. Skyrim on the PS3 has been like a lightweight boxer going up against a heavyweight collection of bugs. It’s been repeatedly punched in the eyes, jaw and lower body so many times that it’ll be a miracle if it can speak in clear, lucid sentences again. It’s fallen to the mat, and, unlike Rocky Balboa, it’s not going to gain any audience sympathy from soldiering on, insisting on inflicting players with bugginess and unpleasant gaming experiences. It may be time to just stay down.
Bethesda finally came out and said recently:
It’s been a few weeks, and we wanted to make sure everyone knows where we’re at with Dawnguard. Skyrim is a massive and dynamic game that requires a lot of resources, and things get much more complex when you’re talking about sizable content like Dawnguard. We have tried a number of things, but none of them solve the issue enough to make Dawnguard good for everyone. The PS3 is a powerful system, and we’re working hard to deliver the content you guys want. Dawnguard is obviously not the only DLC we’ve been working on either, so the issues of adding content get even more complicated. This is not a problem we’re positive we can solve, but we are working together with Sony to try to bring you this content.
We wish we had a more definitive answer right now. We understand the frustration when the same content is not available on all platforms. When we have an update, we will certainly let you know. We deeply appreciate all the time and support you have given us, and we’ll keep doing our best to return that.
They are being completely honest, and I can’t fault them for that. Anyone that has been following the saga of Behtesda games on the PS3 knows that they are the buggiest games on the entire system, nonpareil. Do you really want to pay money for something that is going to break on you? Or would you rather hear the people responsible say “We’re not going to inflict that on you”?
Is Bethesda being lazy? I don’t know.Is Bethesda being lazy? I don’t know. Are their programmers somehow less talented than those at other developers that produce working PS3 versions of their 3
party titles? I don’t know the answer to that either. All I know for sure is past experience has taught me they are horrible at presenting smooth, relatively functional gaming experiences on the PS3, and their woes with the Dawnguard DLC must have been dire if they made the decision to hold off on releasing the game at this time. After all, they were willing to release Skyrim despite the fact that it eventually grinded to a halt on the PS3 after prolonged play. How much worse shape must Dawnguard be in to make even Bethesda pause for thought?