Bethesda Game Studios CEO Pete Hines explains why games including Starfield and Skyrim are so buggy.
Bethesda CEO Pete Hines recently explained why the studio’s games are notoriously buggy, whether it’s big titles like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout or Starfield. While many people know that Bethesda Game Studios’ game publishing library is among the most successful in the industry, there’s no denying that there’s also a bad reputation surrounding them. Some Bethesda fans won’t even play their game at launch and wait for fixes to roll out patch by patch. Bethesda knows its reputation, and Hines explains that there’s a good reason for that.
Bugs in Bethesda games are certainly not a new phenomenon, although their reputation has certainly gotten worse in recent years. The Elder Scrolls grew from a casual RPG in the 1990s to a major undertaking thanks to the release of Morrowind in 2002. But that’s when Bethesda started focusing on consoles with the release of Oblivion in 2006 when they moved to a new focus. Perhaps it was due to the slow pace of updates or because console gamers of the time were less comfortable with bugs, frustration with the release of Fallout 76 in 2018, a game developed largely by a separate studio, Bethesda Game Studios Austin, added to the negativity surrounding the company.
But Pete Hines, head of global publishing at Bethesda, says the studio’s developers “embrace chaos.” Being given a bad reputation was clearly unintended, but the buggy experience was seen as a product of Bethesda Game Studios’ dedication to its creative experimentation. “What we strive for is player freedom,” Hines said, implying that pushing the boundaries of player freedom in video games often comes with unintended consequences Okay.
Of course that doesn’t mean Bethesda wants people who play its games to have a bad experience. Hines made it clear that bugs in Bethesda’s game are still unacceptable. Those are bugs that don’t detract from the experience that Bethesda won’t let the team get in the way of.
Before Starfield launched into early access, there were significant worries that it would also be burdened by excessive bugs. As reviews have been shared, there are many positive reports that Starfield is rated higher than expected. It’s still full of bugs, but considering Hines’ comment it’s not a big surprise. Hines even mentioned a bug in which a shark somehow got into an elevator and jumped out when the doors opened. He has requested that the bug be kept in the game, although he thinks it may have been removed.
Although what director Hines said certainly makes sense because some of Bethesda Game Studios’ mistakes have been well received by the gaming community and made the game more interesting, but it is a risky thing. Sometimes risk doesn’t always lead to success. At least, games like Starfield are getting the time they need to perfect Bethesda’s vision, bugs and all.