This problem is nothing new
Cross-platform games are wonderful in that, if there's a hot new game out, everybody gets to play.
But, the sad fact is that, when it comes to ports (i.e. converting a game to work on another platform), it's PC gamers who usually get the pain of experiencing a release which isn't fully optimized for their hardware, or indeed is plagued with bugs, perhaps even beyond playability.
After all, these things can easily be patched. PC owners are used to patches…
So, we've come to the latest affront against the gaming PC: Mafia III. The desktop flavor of 2K Games's organized crime epic reportedly runs like it's wearing concrete boots. To ensure that the game's performance is "consistent across all platforms," the frame rate has been locked to 30 frames per second (fps) – even on PC.
No matter how fast your processor, or how beefy your graphics card, Mafia III is shackled to the lowest common denominator: the max visuals that the consoles can produce.
The developers have said a patch is inbound that will introduce the option for 60 or unlimited fps, but fans are dumbfounded as to why this wasn't in for release. This is exactly the sort of thing that draws the ire of PC gamers.
Just check the heavy dose of negative Steam reviews, with some calling the game unpalatable at 30 fps. (Though, that claim might be a bit extreme.)
Mafia III is hardly alone, though, and indeed it got us thinking about some of the worse offenders we've seen in recent times when it comes to PC game ports. To grant Mafia III some solidarity and to highlight this long-standing problem in multi-platform games on the PC, here's our small gallery of recent PC gaming rogues.
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Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
In fairness, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided didn't launch with the same level of issues as some of the other games we're about to sentence for their crimes against the PC gaming community. But, it certainly had a good number of flaws worth highlighting. Along with Mafia III, the new Deus Ex shows that PC port problems are still very much alive and well in the current PC gaming climate.
Bugs that divided the player base included various performance issues and sluggish frame rates, with some folks experiencing considerable fps drops when playing at over 1080p resolution.
There were also crashes and minor glitches, alongside problems with mouse sensitivity and acceleration. The latter particularly bothered some to the extent that they ended up using a gamepad instead. Playing a shooter with a gamepad – on PC? Tsk! Whatever, next…
All this meant that quite a lot of flak was fired at the game in its initial Steam reviews. The game has been patched since release, bringing DirectX 12 support and fixing various bugs, so the light at the end of the tunnel has appeared.
No Man's Sky
Travelling back again to this summer, when No Man's Sky arrived on the PC, it was with all the wrong headlines. A host of glitches and bugs were present, including problems with getting a smooth frame rate even with high-end graphics cards, and sudden fps drops showing themselves.
No Man's Sky also had issues running with some AMD processors, and there was a number of game-crashing gremlins in the works, not to mention the dreaded saved game corruption. Furthermore, a number of decidedly-not-fun things could happen to you, such as getting stuck under the world, and being stranded in a space station with a damaged ship you can't repair. And there were issues around stuttering with mouse control.
All in all, it was enough to make you want to fly head-on into a supernova. Or, get a refund on the game from Steam, which there was a whole controversy about as well (due to the false belief that Valve had extended the refund period as a special case).
It's only fair to note that this title did also have its woes on the PS4 as well, but not to the same extent. Thankfully, many of these issues were fixed by early September – a month after release.
Batman: Arkham Knight
It isn't often that a game gives players so much grief that the publisher suspends sales on Steam while it works on fixing things. But that's exactly what happened to the PC incarnation of Batman: Arkham Knight last summer, when it was taken off the scene for around four months in order to be straightened out.
It seems that Batman had 99 problems (but a batarang wasn't one), which included but weren't limited to: slow and stuttering frame rates, bugs with textures (including them disappearing), a lack of high-end visual effects like ambient occlusion and transparency layers for wet surfaces, problems with rendering light and shadows, save corruptions (although these were rare), and various crashes.
Apparently, hard drive paging issues were the cause of performance trouble for some users, which is why those on Windows 10 with 12GB of system RAM found the game was a smooth experience – because it could run without paging. Of course, everyone has 12GB of RAM, right?
And this, like Mafia III, was another game which came with a hard 30 fps frame cap on the PC. This was most likely due to the level of performance issues players would have hit otherwise – it was bad enough at 30 fps!
Finally, heading back a bit further into the past to 2014, we have Watchdogs. A bullet train of hype from its early days of being programmed in the puppy basket, after its release on the PC, Ubisoft's open-world shooter was swiftly consigned to the dog kennel.
The PC version was beset with difficulties and plentiful complaints of poor overall performance levels and stuttering frame rates, with some players observing bad tearing at times (such as when driving). There were also crashes with SLI graphics card configurations, various visual glitches and issues during cinematics.
Mouse acceleration was also off, making mouse control a far more miss than hit matter (frame rate and mouse problems certainly seem to be some of the most prevalent bugbears when it comes to PC ports).
Watchdogs 2 will be out in November, and it'll hopefully show that lessons have been learned in terms of taking time to get things right for the PC – not just the consoles.
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).