If there's one thing Bethesda games are known for, it's massive, intricate open worlds. If there's a second, it's watching those same worlds break in spectacular, often horrifying fashion. Sometimes we're willing to overlook these sorts of transgressions. Either for the sake of those vast creations, or comedic value. Other times, as with the case of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on PlayStation 3, we're not so forgiving.
One of the great things about a Bethesda world is getting lost in it for hundreds of hours. Such a thing inevitably leads to save files that match, and there are few worse feelings than losing all that progress. So imagine when word got out that not only were PS3 saves of Skyrim doomed, but that our own obsessive playtime was the culprit.
There is nothing wrong with this GIF. As you can see in this IGN video, this is ripped from real-time footage. This is what Skyrim PS3 actually looked like.
As you played, your save size increased. Problems the occurred after files hit broke the 5MB mark -- less space than you'd need to commit every book in the faux fantasy world to a plain text file. Yet this was the game's breaking point on Sony's perpetual also-ran console. Symptoms included: increasingly poor frame rates, long load times, and the inability to interact with certain parts of the game. So, the more you played the game the more unplayable it became. Here, look at the Digital Foundry side-by-side comparison between a fresh game and a 65 hour save:
Fans waited for a fix. And waited. And waited some more, until three months after launch Bethesda finally found a fitting solution. Sort of. A patch was released that fixed some of the issues for some of the players. Bethesda head Todd Howard eventually came clean, claiming the issue would hit different players in different ways. It all depended on whether they preferred their giant, asshole crabs diced with an obsidian sword, or sautéed by fire magic. Well, among other things.
The technical issues were so bad that the studio had to push back DLC for that version of the game until the they were solved (something which wouldn't deter a later entry on this list). Of course, with Skyrim more-or-less in retirement the developer can focus on making polished, well-tested experiences for all players from now on... Ah. right.
Producing an annual video game franchise is tough. Case in point, Assassin's Creed -- a series which publisher Ubisoft actually pulled from the yearly release cycle because it couldn't handle the pace.
Boy, could it not handle the pace. The franchise had had its duds before -- like Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and Assassin's Creed 3 -- but neither came close to the disaster that was Assassin's Creed: Unity.
As the series' debut release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Unity sought to differentiate itself from its predecessors with co-op play. All-in-all, a respectable goal. However, the effort and money which went into that feature may have been better spent making sure the rest of the game actually worked. Unity was laggy. Unity was buggy. Unity had NPCs that floated through the air, collapsed into contorted piles of jelly, and pushed their way into cutscenes like they weren't just there to comment on the protagonist's parkour skills.
Oh, and let's not forget it somehow managed to beat NBA 2K15 for most horrifying faces in a video game in 2014.
Unity's successor, Syndicate, was a step up, but it hardly lit the world on fire as some previous Assassin's Creed games had done. Whether because of those cold, hard numbers, the backlash to Unity, or some mixture of the two Ubisoft finally relented. They decided to give each -- or at least the next -- Assassin's Creed game more than a year to breathe in development. Whether that's enough to earn back the trust of players bit one or two too many times is up for debate.