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Microsoft Taking Heat For Five-Figure Xbox 360 'Patch Fee' 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
wasimkadak sends this quote from Ars: "Developer Phil Fish knows there's a problem preventing some people from enjoying his Xbox 360 puzzle platformer Fez as intended. But he's not going to fix it, thanks to what he says is an exorbitant fee of 'tens of thousands of dollars' that Microsoft would charge to re-certify the game after a needed patch. The issue started on June 22, when Fish released a patch intended to fix some outstanding gameplay and performance issues with Fez. That patch gave rise to new problems for some players, though, by causing their save files to appear as corrupted, in effect erasing their progress through the game. Microsoft pulled the initial patch for the game mere hours after it first went up, to prevent the bug it contained from spreading too far." Another article covering the story suggests this situation is simply a mis-match between an indie-dev's expectations and the realities of a curated gaming platform.
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Microsoft Taking Heat For Five-Figure Xbox 360 'Patch Fee'

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  • Team Fortress 2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday July 20, 2012 @12:19PM (#40713723) Homepage
    This is part of the reason TF2 is largely unpatched on the Xbox... Valve was going to wait to make one big content update, but then they exceeded the Xbox's memory limitations. Whoops.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @12:24PM (#40713809)

    The $40k fee that MS charges for patches is ridiculous. Considering they get a chunk of every game sold, the certification process should be gratis.

    HOWEVER, it's also important to note that while the excessive fee is what is limiting Fez from being updated (it comes out to something like 6-8% of the entire revenue the game is likely to ever create after years of development -- PER PATCH), it is important to remember that Microsoft is NOT debugging or testing your game. They are NOT your QA department. They are merely there and receiving your $40k to test and verify that *YOU* adhered to *THEIR* very long list of requirements. Such as "do you press A or START to begin the game" and "does an interactive menu appear within the first 30 seconds of launching the game" and "can the game be completed". THAT is the certification they are doing. They are NOT being paid that $40k to debug and troubleshoot the game *ITSELF*.

    Of course, if he'd released this on Steam or even entirely independently on his own site, he could patch to his heart's content.

    At any rate, Phil Fish is a controversial character, but I dig the guy and hope this all settles out in the end. Hopefully he moves on to greener pastures with his next game (or, even, with this one as soon as the exclusivity breaks).

  • by drkoemans (666135) on Friday July 20, 2012 @12:42PM (#40714163)

    I'm a long time gamer that has come full circle. The xbox was the first console I've ever owned and was purchased largely because of the mess that was PC gaming in the late 90s early 2000s: game that took an hour to install and didn't work out of the box, CS map packs that had to be downloaded from the server you were connected to, games that only ran on 3DFX voodoo cards, the list could go on forever. I had less time to game as I was now an adult and I just wanted things to work.

    The trade was well worth it. Now a decade later it seems all those same issues have crept into consoles. I can't play CoD with friends unless I've bought the map packs, games are coming out not fully operational, I have to PAY to play online. Taken individually I can get over most but in the meantime the price of a PC (desktop and laptop) has fallen BELOW what I paid for my 360 (and PS3, I have one of those too) at launch. Steam has made digital distribution and patching a reality and with Steam sales, has brought the cost of the software WAY down. Laptops make my gaming platform portable and self contained.

    I'm not saying I won't buy the next generation of consoles but I'm going to think long and hard about doing so. I am definitely ready for the resurgence of PC gaming, not that it ever went away, but a lot of us migrated and are ready to come back. I admire the console's attempt to integrate the indie community into fold but it was a slippery slope and the repercussions of that decision are unfolding. I don't blame microsoft or the dev in this scenario, I'm just not positive that it was ever a good marriage to begin with.

  • Re:Team Fortress 2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Friday July 20, 2012 @01:00PM (#40714501) Journal

    Haven't looked at PCs in awhile have you? I'm playing on an AMD 6 core and an HD4850 I got for $50 and I have tons of bling and have no problem with the new games like Saints Row 3 or Deus Ex HR. Very few games are doing the old Far Cry I "Our game is useful for benchmarking!" bit because it simply limits your audience too much. I have no doubt my boys and I will be playing on our two hexas and the youngest with his quad come 2020 when the OS goes EOL with nothing but a $50-$100 GPU update in about another year that will take all of 10 minutes and is simple enough my teen boys will change out their own. Oh and as a bonus you can put your old cards on Craigslist and get some of your money back which makes the cards even cheaper.

    This is why I'm glad me and the boys have switched almost exclusively to PC gaming, too much BS, too much price gouging, and talking to friends frankly the patches are just as bad and large for the PC only as in TFA you simply may not get them and instead get stuck with a buggy game for your hard earned $$. Thanks to the Steam sale by the time its over on the 22nd me and the boys will have enough games to last us until the big Xmas sale and that's with crazy cheap prices, games automatically patched for free, free MP with matchmaking and chat, its just a nicer experience all around. hell nearly all the games support controllers if that's what you prefer and nearly all the modern cards have HDMI out so you can plug that PC into your widescreen no problem.

    For those that prefer consoles you might want to watch this video by Jim Sterling [escapistmagazine.com] where he points out that all the advantages consoles use to have frankly are rapidly disappearing, with consoles having the same bad attributes as PCs such as long loads and large patches, and the good things are being matched or surpassed by the PC.

  • by tibman (623933) on Friday July 20, 2012 @01:01PM (#40714519) Homepage

    It's probably what they are actually doing.

  • Re:For real? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Friday July 20, 2012 @01:16PM (#40714779)

    It sounds more like he's blaming them for charging tens of thousands of dollars to certify and post the corrected patch.

    The second article makes a good point though (and some stupid ones). He's floating on over a million dollars in sales. The crazy-high cost of certification is extortion, but it's also fair to say he has a certain obligation to the folks who bought his game. Meanwhile, the nasty little outbursts aren't going to win him a ton of fans.

    Frankly, I'm all for a very high fee for patching. As high as possible.

    The internet made it so that games are released broken, with the mentality that they'll just patch later. The way I see it, you should have the mentality that no patch will ever be released, and test the hell out of it. Patches should be a very rare thing. By increasing the cost of the patch, you cause people like this guy to not release the patch. That hurts the users, but it also hurts him, because as people find out his game is broken, his sales will decrease. So maybe in the future, he'll keep that in mind and do proper testing.

    We've made it cheap to patch games anytime. We need to make it expensive to make the cost involved in thorough testing cheaper than patching later.

  • Re:For real? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday July 20, 2012 @01:18PM (#40714811) Journal

    Presumably the patch was certified. If so, clearly certification means nothing because it didn't catch saved file corruption differences between versions, which would be one of the primary things certification should test. He should ask for his certification payment back.

  • Re:For real? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mike Buddha (10734) on Friday July 20, 2012 @01:53PM (#40715395)

    Actually, the bug was uncovered during the certification process. He was given the option of releasing the patch as is, or fixing the bug and re-certifying the patch and then releasing it. He opted to line his own pockets and screw his customers by not pulling the patch, fixing the bug and re-certifying. Then he complained that it was Microsofts fault for uncovering the faulty code and adhering to the patch release policies that had always been in place.

  • Re:For real? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @01:56PM (#40715461)

    Developer pushes out game with minor, end-game bug. Developer drops $40K to patch minor bug, inadvertently causing a much more serious issue. Developer devises fix for this and attempts to publish it, but M$ demands another $40K, causing developer to reconsider his motivations and the justification for fixing such a minor bug.

    $80K is a bit much to throw at a bug that only a very tiny fraction of your customers will experience... so, yeah, the fact that the game will probably go unpatched is entirely Microsoft's fault. You can go right on retelling the story in progressively poorer light, but it won't change the fact that this patch would be live /right now/ if it weren't for Microsoft's extortion.

  • Re:For real? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 20, 2012 @03:50PM (#40717073)

    That's not how I read it from any of the 3 FAs. Source?

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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