Xbox Live Stops Charging Studios To Patch Games; Fez Creator Upset

When a rare — but utterly game-breaking bug — crippled the indie sensation Fez, its maker said it would issue no patch to fix it. That's because Microsoft would have charged "tens of thousands of dollars" to put out the patch out over Xbox Live. Yesterday, the company revealed it did away with those charges back in April.

Eurogamer first reported the news that developers are no longer being charged for title updates on the Xbox 360, which Microsoft later confirmed over Twitter. If so, that's news to Phil Fish, the head of Fez studio Polytron, whose relationship with Microsoft soured greatly following last year's patch controversy.

Nearly a year ago, Fez published a title update to fix glitches that had popped up in the original release. Developers were given one free patch update over Xbox Live. After that, Microsoft charged for patches. Problem is, this patch broke Fez even worse. Microsoft removed the patch from Xbox Live.

When another fatal bug was discovered, Fish made the decision not to patch it because of what Microsoft would charge ("tens of thousands of dollars," Fish said in a statement) and the fact it affected, according to Polytron, less than one per cent of all users.

On consoles Fez is available only on the Xbox 360; a PC version came out about a year after it first released. Polytron's relationship with Microsoft disintegrated after the patch matter. Over Twitter, he profanely denounced a lack of support his game got as a console exclusive, echoing other indie studio complaints (particularly from those who made Super Meat Boy.) Fez 2 is confirmed to be in development; asked on which platform, Fish said, "not Xbox."

So when he learned yesterday that Microsoft had rolled back its charges for title update, Fish said "You forgot to tell people."

"I've been hearing this rumour for months. Microsoft never told us anything about it," he added, via Twitter.

He then said he would ask if the new policy was retroactive, meaning Fez could finally get its patch.

"Something tells me it won't be retroactive," he said.

Microsoft no longer charges developers to patch their Xbox 360 games [Eurogamer]


Comments

    Polygon wrote an article on this like a week ago, it was better in almost every aspect.

    Last edited 30/06/13 2:41 pm

      Kingpotato wrote a comment like this on Gizmodo last week. It was almost as lame in every respect.

        I see what you did there

    What!? Are you serious!? I never thought I see Microsoft make the right decision and not charge for something that used to be free. I mean, it sucks it's so late, so many games who couldn't patch themselves because of this stupid policy are long dead and will never revive (still annoyed at Supreme Commander 2) and I'm sure that they still have their stupid 30 day trial policy, but at least we might see patches in the future.

    so he's pissed off because something he always wanted to happen has now happened? what a clown

      His game has a game-breaking bug MS wanted to charge him thousands to fix; they've dropped the fee now, but not for games released before their announcement. He STILL can't patch it for free.

        I haven't seen any reports to say it's not retroactive, besides Fish's bitter speculation — fair enough, it was ridiculous they wanted thousands of dollars for re-certification, but Fish has been bitching about Microsoft and their approach to indie developers for months, so why when he finally gets a result does he continues to sulk?

        I agree with @earlofleisure, it doesn't endear him to anyone.

        Last edited 30/06/13 4:41 pm

          He's a massive jerk, completely agree. But he does have a valid complaint, if true.

          He's not happy because MS has been selling his game on XBL with a known bug for months, but they didn't notify him of the policy change, which would allow him to fix it. That's assuming retroactive patches are even allowed.

          Also, with regards to the known fee. Devs usually have to wait months before their publisher actually passes along their cut. So lots of devs don't have lots of spare cash following a release. Especially a long delayed one.

          Further more, on a MS published title, MS would have handled QA for the game, and the patch. So it's as much their failure as his. Small indie devs cannot afford QA teams.

        right ok that makes a little more sense. I've wanted to play fez since release but can't handle giving money to this guy, $2 steam sale only

          God yes, guy is a pretentious jerk.

      Seems to me like he's pissed off because Microsoft tried to molest him.

      I know a lot of the things he's said and done aren't very professional, but charging $10,000 for a patch is ludicrous.

      With all this flip-flopping from Microsoft, I'm of the belief that you can forgive, but must never forget. I don't forgive.

    Ok so he released a game that was buggy to start with and the patched it and killed it even more now do ppls understand that this can be a reason y the fees got introduced coz stupid developers like this guy get th money make a half game and refuse to patch it lol am sure he did get money to release it only on xbox so in the end for the ppls with brain can see through his bullshit

    So this guy writes shitty code that breaks the game, tries to fix it with more shitty code that breaks it again, and Microsoft are the bad guys? Charging people for patches is a really dog move, but maybe if fish was better at his job, it wouldn't be an issue. Just sayin

    When he signed the contract he knew how much patches cost but he signed it and he happily took the money for being an exclusive title. And then when a bug in the game HE made causes it to break ... it's all Microsoft's fault.

    Amateur hour.

      Not only that, they fixed a bug in what they knew was their only chance at a free update and apparently didn't test one of the most obvious things that could break before sending it out.

    Let me get this right
    1. Game released. Has bugs.
    2. Patch released. Makes bugs worse. Pulled by Microsoft
    3. Dev told it will cost him money to release another patch
    4. Dev cries - can't afford money to make patch. Might not be able to make a patch which works anyway based on recent record.
    5. Microsoft announces no more fees to release patches. Dev can't be arsed finding this out or releasing patch anyway. Dev has probably burnt any goodwill Microsoft have for him because of Twitter rants.
    6. Dev announces next game will not be on Xbox - PS users await new buggy game.

    Now!! Maybe this explains why my Too Human never got any updates of DLC as promise... Miss that game...

    That fez guys a out spoken jerk.i l wouldnt head anything the says.

      Please, for goodness sake people, PROOF READ YOUR POSTS!

        Something about the nature of the errors makes me believe it wouldn't have made much difference.

    I also heard the main reason why Microsoft charged so much was to discourage developers releasing unfinished games and then finishing them off via endless patches.

      Also because patching constantly can cause more problems because of inadequate testing and all patches need to be applied to downloaded or installed games in sequence IIRC (no downloading a pre patched game) so people would have to sit thru dozens of small patches before being able to play.

      Pretty much this. It's a financial disincentive to release buggy garbage on the platform. The fact Fish couldn't get his game right in the first place - AND couldn't get his first patch right - speaks volumes about his development processes and lack of quality assurance. Being an indie studio is no excuse, especially for a standardised platform like Xbox.

    Classic Phil Fish. Bitches about a problem, bitches about the solution.

    "Why does no one think of me, Phil Fish, creator of Fez, by Phil Fish"

    Glad I got this game on PC...free patches...lol

    Ok I can understand Microsoft's logic behind charging for patches to stop endless patching but you would think Microsoft would have something special for the developers that sign up for an exculsive deal...

    I don't see anything in the passion, speculation and content in what Phil Fish says that tells me he's any different to any of you. People can cowardly pretend like they don't have moments where they complain about what they believe to be an injustice, as they are infalliable and every word they speak is a calculated, strategic move. Hindsight is always great to cowards, ignorance and insecurity help too.

      Nice try fish. It's one thing to complain to your friends about work, it's another thing to go about bitching about your employer all over the interwebs. Not that Microsoft was necessarily an employer, but you did sign an exclusive contract (which it seems you didn't read). Whinger.

      Honestly, sounds to me more like the kind of pissed off I'd be if I had bought an expensive product then found out it was on a massive discount a few months later. Not exactly justifiable. Guy already burned his bridges, it's a pretty lame thing to then go and criticize them for amending the policy he lambasted, just because they didn't send him a gilt-edged invite to go and patch it for free like it was some kind of apology.

    Typical Microsoft. Wring money out of anyone wherever and whenever they can.

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