Starfield exec defends Bethesda’s ‘janky’ games: “We embrace chaos”
Bethesda head of publishing Pete Hines addressed the company’s reputation for making “janky” games in the wake of Starfield’s release.
Starfield is finally in gamers’ hands after a very long wait. While reviews are overall positive, players have noticed quite a bit of what’s become known as “Bethesda jank.”
Some fans embrace these imperfections as part of the experience, but tolerance for such issues has generally declined, especially in the wake of buggy AAA releases like Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel’s Avengers, and Bethesda’s own Fallout 76.
In an interview conducted ahead of Starfield’s release, Bethesda head of publishing Pete Hines addressed the developer’s reputation, explaining that some of it is intentional.
Pete Hines connects Starfield bugs to “player freedom”
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz during Gamescom, Hines was asked about Bethesda’s history of releasing games that are in a rough and buggy state, especially at launch.
Hines indicated that at least some of the so-called jank is there on purpose, saying “there is some amount of that which is intentional, meaning we embrace chaos.”
He also connected issues players have found in games like Starfield and Skyrim to letting players enjoy those titles in their own ways. “We could make a safer, less buggy, less risky game if we wanted to. But what we try to lean into is player freedom.”
The implication here is that bugs are inevitable when making games as huge and risky as Bethesda’s. As Hines says, “Of course there are bugs. But does it take away from your experience? Or do you have a consistent, fun game that you just can’t stop playing and experimenting with?”
Hines also recounts a development story about a Starfield bug that was likely fixed but could have been included for entertainment value. “On Neon…we had a bug where a shark was able to get on an elevator. Then the elevator doors would open on a street level and the shark would come sliding out – everybody screams and starts running in every direction.”
While Starfield players probably won’t encounter that bug, it speaks to the kind of silliness Bethesda embraces. To Hines and Bethesda at large, it seems bugs can be part of the experience – so long as they are not game-breaking.
Starfield may be less janky overall than other Bethesda games, but fans hoping their experiences won’t be too smooth will be happy to learn that there are still plenty of bugs.