Sci-fi survival horror game The Callisto Protocol received an avalanche of negative Steam reviews (opens in new tab) due to a stuttering problem it suffered from at launch. Its user rating dropped to 22% at one point, with players calling it "a mess" and renaming it "The Stuttering Protocol".
That user rating has now begun rising following a post-launch patch specifically to tackle the performance problem, and is currently sitting at a "mixed" rating of 51%. "Thanks for your patience", the official Callisto Protocol Twitter account (opens in new tab) said. "A PC patch is now available to improve gameplay stuttering issues due to shader compilation. After updating, you may see temporary stuttering in the game menu the first time you launch the app. We are working on further optimizations in the days ahead."
Glen Schofield, CEO of developer Striking Distance Studios, explained what happened to cause the problem on Twitter (opens in new tab). "A wrong file was patched", he said. "Just freakin error by someone rushing." He also referred to it as "a clerical error", and said that, "It's launch day, this happens unfortunately. This is Krafton's 1st sp, console game so we're basically doing everything ourselves like a startup. I apologize".
Given how quickly the problem was able to be addressed, and that stuttering was less significant in the pre-release review build, the claim that a mistake was made in The Callisto Protocol's launch-day patch checks out. As our review noted, there were "definitely some stutters", but nowhere near as many as were present in the version of the game that went on sale.
If only it was always so simple. Issues with stuttering in PC ports, usually thanks to Unreal Engine 4's well-known problems with shader compilation and asset loading, have plagued plenty of games in recent years. They've affected games from Final Fantasy 7 Remake to The Ascent. On-demand shader compilation is on the roadmap for Unreal Engine 5.1 (opens in new tab), however.