“You can’t do everything you want”: Todd Howard is Okay With Bethesda Games Having 30 FPS, Sacrifice Graphic Fidelity and Speed as Long as it Satisfies 1 Condition

Do you think the decision to sacrifice graphical fidelity for more player freedom is right?

todd howard, bethesda
credit: Wikimedia Commons/Gstaff25

SUMMARY

  • Todd Howard talks about Bethesda's decision to sacrifice graphical fidelity for a smoother gaemplay experience.
  • He highlighted that the player's freedom to see and do as many things as possible is the most important.
  • Starfield's poor reception may be partly due do its 30 FPS limitation, but the consideration of player experience is also important.
Show More
Featured Video

Almost a year before Starfield‘s release, Todd Howard talked about the decision to sacrifice certain graphical aspects in a game, including a 60 FPS experience, for player agency. And a year later, Starfield launched with a 30 FPS cap on Xbox consoles. It has been eight months since the game’s release, and while the game enjoyed all the hype around its release, this decision came under scrutiny. 

Advertisement

Ever since the game was announced at the Xbox Showcase, there were constant discussions about Bethesda’s decision to cap the game at 30 FPS. The creative choice made by the developers sparked a lot of controversial debates. 

Todd Howard Talked About a Key Idea in Bethesda’s Game Development

Todd Howard Talks About The Decision to Lock Games Such as Starfield to 60 FPS
Todd Howard Talks About The Decision to Lock Games Such as Starfield to 60 FPS | Microsoft

In an interview with Lex Fridman, Todd Howard emphasized the importance of player agency and experience over graphic fidelity and speed. Despite the industry trend leaning towards 60 frames per second (FPS) for smoother gameplay, Howard defended Bethesda’s decision to stick with 30 fps for certain titles. One of which ended up being Starfield

Advertisement

We let the players have as much agency and do as many things as they can as possible. We will sacrifice some graphic fidelity for that, some speed for that. Traditionally, we’re okay with 30 frames a second as long as it looks really good and the simulation is running and all

Howard’s comments shed light on Bethesda’s development philosophy, which seems to prioritize the player’s ability to interact with and influence the game world over technical performance metrics. This approach aligns with Bethesda’s reputation for creating expansive, open-world RPGs that offer players a high degree of freedom and choice.

The confidence Microsoft showed in the bankability of Starfield was enough to predict the scale of the release. The sci-fi exploration title had to be a real ‘masterpiece’ to let the fans move beyond the 30 fps debate. Although it didn’t quite deliver in the way that the devs might have hoped, it is a big learning point for their decisions in the future.

Starfield’s Mediocre Reception and Release

A still from Starfield's launch
Starfield was not received well by players and fans. | Bethesda

One of the main criticisms leveled against Starfield has been its perceived lack of a strong creative vision and engaging narrative. Some players felt that the game failed to innovate on Bethesda’s established formula, leading to a mixed reception on platforms like Steam and the Xbox Games store.

Advertisement

Todd Howard recently addressed these criticisms in an interview with Kinda Funny Games. He acknowledged the polarized reception of Starfield and assured fans that the developers were listening closely to their feedback. Howard sympathized with players who had high expectations for the game’s exploration elements, but he emphasized that the studio’s vision for a sci-fi RPG necessitated certain trade-offs.

With advancements in technology pushing the boundaries of what is possible in game design, Howard’s comments serve as a reminder that, ultimately, the goal of game development is to create memorable and engaging experiences for players.

Avatar

Written by Daniel Royte

Articles Published: 178

Daniel is a gamer through and through with a passion for gaming in his veins. His current adventures have taken him into the world of Elden Ring, Wuthering Waves, and Genshin Impact, amongst others.