Bethesda: "We need to treat our updates with greater care"

Skyrim publisher admits patching is too aggressive and clumsy

The Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda has admitted it needs to better care when releasing patches for its games, as its latest update to fix issues on console created more problems for players.

On release, The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim suffered from serious lag issues on PlayStation 3, with a recent patch only partially solving the problem. To make matters worse, the patch also unbalanced gameplay and created embarrassing visual bugs such as backwards flying dragons.

"We'll continue to do everything we can to make the game better and better for as many people as possible every day," said the company on its blog.

"We've also realised that with the millions upon millions of people playing Skyrim, we need to treat our updates with greater care. If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game like this.

If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game like this

Bethesda spokesperson

"To be safe, we are prioritising code side fixes right now over data fixes. Quest and balance issues are usually data, and those will start rolling in a large way with the January updates."

The problems are disappointing for consumers as the game has been one of the best received this year, across Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC formats.

Updates for the console version of the game are hampered by the slow approval process at Sony and Microsoft, said Bethesda, but players should expect a lot more patching over the coming months.

"After the holidays, we'll continue to release regular updates for the game - through full title updates, as well as incremental 'gameplay updates' to fix whatever issues come up along with rebalancing portions of the game for difficulty or exploits.

"We plan on having a lot of these, not just a few. Overall, you should expect updates to be hitting the PC and Steam earlier and more often, as that's a process we control. Console updates will follow, as they must be certified and processed by those manufacturers."

The company also said it will release free PC development tools in January along with a Creation Kit for users to create their own content. Incorporating Steam Workshop, users will be able to upload mods, browse, rate and flag content for download.

Related stories

Bethesda donates $100,000 to scholarship program for women and minority students

Wolfenstein publisher claims to have made the largest donation in ESA Foundation's history

By James Batchelor

Adding multiplayer would "dilute" Wolfenstein's storytelling

MachineGames' Tommy Tordsson Björk on the benefits of single-player focus to "pushing the boundaries" in The New Colossus

By Matthew Handrahan

Latest comments (25)

Rogier Voet IT Consultant 6 years ago
I understand that it's hard to prevent bugs in a game which is a huge as Skyrim. It's a lot better than Oblivion (which had some serious game-breaking bugs).

I'm dissapointed that are no quest bugs solved so far and that the first update caused problems (instead of fixing them).
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
David Spender Lead Programmer 6 years ago
My PC copy auto-updated through steam last night (would have tried to prevent that but the previous update now forced steam connectivity to play).

As soon as I launched I was greeted with major bugs like not being able to Fast Travel (clicking a location on the map, closed the map) and not being able to store items (pressing 'R' does nothing). I also had battle music playing in my house and it wouldn't stop.

Previously I had had no issues. Maybe just one or two crashes in 105 hours of play and no other real bugs to speak of. Now my game is practically unplayable, aggravated by the fact that the update was shoved down my throat whether I wanted it or not (I didn't).
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Wow, you're really unlucky man. My Skyrim updated, but is ok right now (and I cant see any improvement).
Hope Bethesda fix some strange things that happens sometimes and break the game. Theres a stupid bug that makes you walk below the ground and cant do nothing else. Even if you goes to jail or tries to jump nothing works. You need to get a previous save. THIS bug I want fixed. Dancing Spiders and flying mammoths can stay there for a long time, I dont care.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (25)
Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 6 years ago
I won't buy the game until it is more stable. I did the same with Oblivion and it was a wise choice.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Steven Pick Lead Graphic Designer, Atomhawk Design6 years ago
Glad I'm getting this for Christmas - hopefully it should be more stable/playable by then. I'm surprised about the reaction to this - all Bethesda games I've played have had bugs and glitches as an inevitable by-product to having games so vast where a lot of factors have to be accounted for.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nevertheless, with only the holiday season free to pursue mindless gaming, likewise I'm glad I'm only picking this title up over the Christmas period, where we can down our pens and go rampaging into the digital adventures of yore. Hopefully its a simple case of plug and play on the console and not plug and pray!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Michael Broster Lead Animator, TCGames Ltd6 years ago
I wonder if Bethesda shouldn't start treating these huge games liek an MMO and have a massive public closed beta where people intentionally try and break stuff. Limit it to a low level cap or something?
They'd need a really strict NDA though because one person could ruin the story for millions :(
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Benjamin Seeberger Writer/Translator 6 years ago
I won't be buying Skyrim until the Creation Kit comes out and the community has a chance to fix the bugs, sadly. I didn't play Oblivion until years after it came out, and by far the modded form of Oblivion is, if not the best, one of the best games ever made (with the appropriate mods). I have no doubt Skyrim will shadow Oblivion in this respect, but in time.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Ingrams Writer 6 years ago
Doesn't seem write that the Skyrim CS is going to be linked in with Steam,meaning, by the sounds of it, that they will only be accessible on Steam. Seems PC gamers are being tied into Steam, whether they like it or not, like Bethesda is tied into Microsoft and Sony for it console patches! So much for the more "organic" PC gaming format! It seems to be turning into a Steam console!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Seb Downie Producer, Guerrilla Games6 years ago
Ironically, my PS3 crashed when it tried to grab the last patch. Fine on second attempt, but gave me a chuckle.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Wayne Gibson UK Marketing Manager for 6 years ago
The most annoying bug I have at the moment is every so often when I fast travel the game crashes. That and my Brotherhood companion tells me 'Your not supposed to be here' when I break into houses.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Julian Cram Producer 6 years ago
If we get too aggressive trying to fix a minor issue, we run a risk of breaking something larger in a game

I think all senior management can learn from this statement.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises6 years ago
@ David

If you have battle music playing in your house that won't stop, then obviously THERE ARE CREATURES IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!!! You have to either kill them, or call the police to help, and then the battle music should stop.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Brian Smith Artist 6 years ago
I hung off from picking up Skyrim but the good thing is Bethesda will deal with the showstoppers and many more. It was kind of inevitable it would arrive in a semi-working state being as ambitious as it is. I usually hate this from developers but the series is just so incredible that I know I will buy it sooner or later.

These days I'm just glad when a developer/publisher remains responsible enough to deal with post launch clangers. There seem to be more and more games on console that don't get fixed at all.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
Actually, the game is VERY playable without the patch, so don't pass it up entirely and/or rent the PS3 version for yourself if you can for a test drive. I've got 131 hours into it so far and have a LOT to go as far as the main quest. There's so much to see and do that some glitches are inevitable. I'm currently NOT a PSN user, so I'm not going near that patch at all. Hell, even if I was, I hate any sort of auto-updating that assumes one wants to muck up his or her game without asking and won;t let you play otherwise (in the case of Steam for poor PC users).

YES, there are some issues (I have one Louis Letrush sticking out of the ground at Whiterun, the occasional loading screen freeze maybe once a day after too many hours playing) and the game chugs when the file size gets too large (just uninstall and reinstall and you're good for a few more hours)...

I'm guessing the inevitable Game of the YEar version will be as bug free as possible, but I'm wondering what would have happened had the game had a 12/12/12 release date? I'd bet it would have shipped a lot less buggy, that's for sure...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jonathon Wilson Specialist, Apple Inc6 years ago
I got the most recent patch for ps3 and havent run across any additional yet the game was still playable before the patch and remains playable now. Freezing and frame rate drops do occur but these arent frequent enough to disrupt the overall experience. I don't seem to be struggling with any balancing issue either so the extent of the problems must be based on each players save file depending on play time or possibly particular questis result in certain issues.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Alexander Trust publisher, editor in chief 6 years ago
So why is everybody moaning? There were so much 10 out of 10 reviews that I could not stop laughing but those people should indeed have no problems at all because their rating depicted everything is wonderful. Sarcasm is the only way to treat this bug-a-boo.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
cmon. 10 out of 10 was fanboyism without a critical objective analysis. if it was 10, it really was a 9 or 9.5. For me bugs and such save issues makes it a 8.5. Having no free time to tolerate gameplay and delayed load/saving issues, this is a major detraction of games whereby only a 15m-30m slots a day are permissible.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games6 years ago
Seems rock solid on 360 - I've played many many hours so far, without a single major issue.

And it really is a superb game; well done Bethesda!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Adam Parker Academic Coordinator, Qantm College6 years ago
I turned off auto-save on my PS3 version, lots of issues resolved. No more crashing on wait in Riften. More stable now...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 6 years ago
This really messed up any plans I had to puchase SKYRIM. I will wait a while before i get it now. Since patches can be downloaded, developers have been sloppy with game testing and debugging themselves. They would rather release the game and have the players discover them. But this is one big bug. I am happy I waited to get SKYRIM. I still believe developers should put greater effort in eliminating bugs before release, like they used to do with older games.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
Rick, Rick, Rick... PLENTY of older games have shipped with minor and major bugs. Pick a console and you'll find someone out there who's put up a YouTube video or message board post on finding and taking advantage of bugs in the code for fun (or to break a game completely). Granted, none of those games were as massive as Skyrim, so that's one thing to consider.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Chances are the expectation is so high, sometimes the standard we hold some games with hype ++ can be impossibly high and as such, the expectation to enjoy to its fullest potential is also in abundance
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Dennis Wan Game Designer, Nanyang Polytechnic6 years ago
When I purchased Oblivion expecting a great ARPG experience, I wasn't so much as dissapointed by the bugginess of it, but more by the gameplay. Gameplay that encourages and rewards busywork and exploitation just drains all the enjoyment and immersion out of the experience. The leveling system was a chore (busywork ad infinitum), and I refuse to believe it was the designers' intention that you should save just before closing the Oblivion gates and just restart the event until you got the enchant you desired.
I hear Skyrim has improved the leveling system, but the combat system still looks clumsy (mainly the melee).
Guess I'll try it when it's better patched up; hopefully the game will be engaging enough to deter me from fiddling around with buckets and NPC heads.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Drew Dewsall Editor, Game4Anything6 years ago
I have racked up over 50 hours on the 360 version of Skyrim so far and have noticed very few bugs. I had one where the ground simply disappeared and my character fell through and died. That was about the most noticeable. Apart from that there have been a few minor graphical glitches but nothing major. I am either very lucky or the game isn't quite as broken as many are reporting. Of course I steered clear of the PS3 version where the majority of problems seem to be residing. Regardless it is still the best game of the year.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.