Posted on December 6, 2011, Phil Hornshaw Why Can’t Anyone Launch a Decent PC Game These Days?
The outgoing year of Two-Thousand and Eleven is a milestone in gaming for two interesting reasons. First, despite being a year laden with sequels, it saw a pretty huge number of great releases all the way through — ranging from Dead Space 2 to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
And second: It was a year of absolutely dismal triple-A PC launches from major publishers.
Looking back, I struggle to think of a top-tier, non-indie game that had a decent launch. Even smaller titles like From Dust were marred by issues — in its case, idiotic controversy because of Ubisoft’s misleading comments about DRM. And larger games from respected PC gaming companies, such as id Software, DICE and Bethesda, have come broken, needing Day 1 patches, and seemingly falling apart at the seams (or in RAGE’s case, the textures).
What’s the deal there? Why can’t anybody get their PC-launching s–t together? Is it really that difficult for DICE and Electronic Arts to have enough servers ready to go at the launch of their biggest shooter franchise, or for id to make sure its game works with all the major video card manufacturers, or for Bethesda to run Skyrim through QA at all?
Let’s look back at some of the most painful PC launches of the last 12 months.
3. Edit this text file and maybe you can play Skyrim
Skyrim has been developed with consoles and gamepads in mind. That much is obvious to anyone who plays it and immediately finds themselves annoyed with the user interface, which just acts weird and doesn’t accommodate a mouse and keyboard well at all. But Skyrim is also fraught with niggling irritations, minor inconveniences and random problems that have made the PC launch pretty lame.
Players have found relief from a lot of problems by editing their .ini files to fix issues like mouse vertical speeds and other tiny but stupid problems. Other third-party large address aware patches have allowed players to take Skyrim beyond the 2GB memory limit — for a while, before Bethesda patches the game and resets everybody.
Meanwhile, those patches have had some troubles of their own worked in. Backwards-flying dragons appeared in Skyrim after the latest patch, for one. But while PC players have seen a lot of little annoyances in the launch of Skyrim, it could be worse — they could be playing PS3.