UPDATE: Bethesda has contacted Eurogamer to clarify Todd Howard's comments on the performance of the PlayStation 3 version of Skyrim.
Bethesda's statement is below:
"The team knew the PlayStation 3 version could [Bethesda's emphasis] run into a 'bad memory situation' and they coded solutions that they felt would work - and in their tests the solutions did work. Post release a 'small percentage' of users were still experiencing issues where it couldn't keep up, and the team went to work hard on solving it."
ORIGINAL STORY: Bethesda knew before Skyrim launched that there would be gamers on PlayStation 3 that would face a "bad memory situation", director Todd Howard has revealed.
But he believed only "a small percentage" would be affected, he told Kotaku. (A small percentage of 10 million shipped copies of a game is still rather a lot - a victim of your own success, you could say.)
Howard recalled how it was "obvious" when testing that Skyrim got in "situations where it taxes the PS3".
"We did a ton more testing this time around," Howard said, "so the game is definitely our most solid release regardless of platform.
"The way our dynamic stuff and our scripting works, it's obvious it gets in situations where it taxes the PS3. And we felt we had a lot of it under control. But for certain users it literally depends on how they play the game, varied over a hundred hours and literally what spells they use, did they go in this building?"
The "common misconception", Howard revealed, was that PS3 frame-rate problems were caused by large game-save files. "No it's not," Howard said. "It's literally the things you've done in what order and what's running."
Howard thought Skyrim patch 1.2, the one that broke resistances and made dragons fly backwards, "took care of a lot of it". And he was stumped when this wasn't the case.
So Bethesda asked users for their saved games and set about putting together Skyrim patch 1.4, which Howard hopes has solved the problem. However, having been in this position before, he's hedging his bets.
"Now that we've been through this we're not naïve enough to say 'we have seen everything', because we have to assume we haven't," he verbally shrugged. "There are still going to be some people who have to come back to us and say, 'OK, my situation is this.'
"'OK, send us your saved game.' We literally need to look at what you have running. We tried doing it through e-mail. We need to open the saved game and look at it.
"We've got one guy who has seven dragons on the other side of the world, and a siege about to happen in this city and another 20 quests running. And, OK, this is what the game is trying to do and it's having a hard time running that."