Skyrim PS3 Lag Issue Explained by Fallout Dev

Fallout: New Vegas director Joshua Sawyer has explained the reason for the lag issue experienced on the PS3 version of Skyrim and why the issue isn’t seen on the X-Box 360 or PC versions. Though Sawyer didn’t work on Skyrim, the two games share similar base technology, and according to Sawyer, the problem is an “engine-level issue” that would take a “large time commitment” to fix.

Sawyer said:

The longer you play a character, the more bit differences on objects (characters, pencils on tables, containers, etc.) get saved off and carried around in memory. I think we’ve seen save games that are pushing 19 megs, which can be really crippling in some areas.

In response to why the issue is only seen on the PS3, Sawyer said:

The problems are most pronounced on the PS3 because the PS3 has a divided memory pool. The Xbox 360 has a unified memory pool: 512 megs of RAM usable as system memory or graphics memory. The PS3 has a divided memory pool: 256 megs for system, 256 for graphics. It’s the same total amount of memory, but not as flexible for a developer to make use of.

Will there ever be a fix? According to this further snippet from Sawyer, it sounds unlikely:

It’s an engine-level issue with how the save game data is stored. We’re talking about how the engine fundamentally saves off and references data at run time. Restructuring how that works would require a large time commitment.

The issues Skyrim’s latest 1.2 Patch has introduced certainly aren’t promising.

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6 Comments on Skyrim PS3 Lag Issue Explained by Fallout Dev


On December 5, 2011 at 12:56 pm

ps3 is inferior

Handsome Jack

On December 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm

So is your mother


On January 6, 2012 at 7:00 am

Skyrim is “playing” pretty much just like New Vegas did on the PS3…the issues start with lag and slowframe rate, broken quests…and then evolves to no-warning game freezes until I had to stop playing New Vegas because it became unplayable. My Skyrim save is now just 11MB and I’ve turned off all the autosaves and I now have the crashing/game freeze. I dread going back to try and play it again because when the game is playable, it’s a marvel…which makes the crashing so much more eeevil.

Basically…Bethesda knew this would happen, didn’t care, doesn’t care now, they’ve made their piles of filthy lucre and the product is defective but because it’s a video game, I won’t be able to get a refund, or justice…or experience the rest of the game.

I will never buy anything connected with Bethesda again. I won’t be fooled again.


On January 23, 2012 at 11:55 am

this is really disappointing


On January 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

i guess i’ll have to re start everything and just have multiple characters for certain things, like the guild quest and so forth…still disapointing


On February 21, 2012 at 2:49 am

I played for 275 hours on ps3 , I’m a level 53 and my savegame is 48 MB of large. I can’t start skyrim without the lag present. I played as a Nord and just followed the advice from the game’s developers : you can do anything and go anywhere… so..I dived into the world and everything I came across, I just followed, built up a web of quests which I worked on like a list of to-do-things. And now I’m wondering : was I mistaken ? I shouldn’t have gone running about, but just followed the questlines one by one… ? Is that what confused the engine ? Is that why I got so much lag ? So I started all over, without being able to insert the latest patches (1.04 and the previous bughunterpatches that caused even more problems) This time I played a woman Nord and Im doing one quest at the time (for as much as it is possible, for the game has a way of confronting you with new stuff just around the corner, which was just the thing that triggered my gungho! approach of the open world skyrim promises to be) So did I overload my graphics engine and my game-engine memory ? I’m just confused. And also a little disappointed.