Poorly optimized or demanding? Not synonymous | ENBLE

Poorly optimized or demanding? Not synonymous | ENBLE

Understanding the Importance of PC Optimization in Gaming

Bethesda Game Studios

“The game is poorly optimized on PC.” This complaint is commonly heard among gamers, especially in recent times. While it’s true that this year has seen a number of poorly optimized PC releases, it’s essential to understand the true meaning of optimization in gaming.

Recently, Todd Howard, the director of the highly anticipated game Starfield, was asked by a Bloomberg reporter why the game wasn’t optimized for PC. Howard’s response, which holds merit, was simple: “Uh… we did.” This brings attention to the fact that the term “optimization” is often misused and misunderstood by gamers.

Optimization, in the context of PC gaming, refers to the process of ensuring that a game can make the most of the hardware available while delivering visually impressive graphics. It’s not as simple as pressing a magical “optimize” button that instantly improves performance on weaker hardware. Developers face challenges in optimizing their games for PC, and unfortunately, many studios have fallen short in this regard.

To understand what poorly optimized PC games look like, we can examine titles like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. At launch, this game showed serious issues, particularly in how it scaled with CPUs. Unreal Engine 4, on which the game was built, is primarily designed to run on two CPU threads. This limitation can lead to stuttering and blockages, especially in complex games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor.

However, developers have techniques at their disposal to optimize games for PC. These include caching shaders, managing VRAM and CPU usage, and employing techniques like Variable Rate Shading (VRS). Additionally, level-of-detail adjustments and asynchronous structures can significantly improve performance.

Optimization is an ongoing process that starts during the conception stages of a game and continues long after its release. Game developers need to strike a balance between technical design and game design to ensure their vision is achieved while offering acceptable performance.

Apart from optimization within the game itself, PC performance can also be impacted by drivers. Simple updates to drivers can sometimes double a game’s performance. However, these optimizations often occur incrementally over time.

Now, let’s shift our focus to Starfield. It’s crucial to differentiate between a demanding game and a poorly optimized one. Starfield can be considered demanding due to its high system requirements. However, it does offer features like VRS, scalability, and efficient shader caching. Despite its taxing nature, the game runs smoothly, with minimal stuttering or crashes.

Some critics have raised concerns about the game’s reliance on AMD hardware and the absence of basic PC features like an FOV slider and HDR support. While these are valid criticisms, they do not make Starfield a poorly optimized game. Certain trade-offs have been made to strike a balance between performance and design.

Starfield is an impressive game, pushing boundaries in areas such as physics-based rendering and highly detailed environments. It offers a unique experience, showcasing the immense effort put into its development. The game has received some backlash for its performance on less powerful hardware, but it still manages to deliver an enjoyable experience, albeit with some room for improvement.

This discussion surrounding game optimization is not limited to Starfield alone. It serves as a noteworthy example of the misconceptions around optimization in PC gaming. It’s important to distinguish between demanding games and poorly optimized ones. By lumping all demanding games into the poorly optimized category, we detract from the criticism and attention that truly broken games deserve.

While it’s crucial to hold PC games to a high standard, we should also recognize and appreciate stable releases that are free from major issues. Starfield, despite its demanding nature, falls into this category. The game has its strengths, and it demonstrates the achievements and challenges of optimization in the gaming industry.


In conclusion, game optimization is a complex and ongoing process. It involves striking a balance between performance and design while making the most of available hardware. The conversation surrounding optimization needs to be more nuanced, and we should celebrate games that manage to deliver stable experiences rather than dismiss them as poorly optimized. Starfield is a prime example of a demanding yet well-optimized game, and it deserves recognition for its achievements in the PC gaming landscape.