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Polytron Won't Fix "Fez" Patch, Blames Microsoft For Certification Costs

Er. No, this isn't how it works, Phil.

Fez - the clever 2D/3D platform adventure, is currently in patch limbo.
Microsoft charges developers to patch their games on Xbox 360. The first patch is free, subsequent ones aren’t, so if there are bugs it’s going to cost you to get them sorted. Unless you’re Phil Fish, in which case you just don’t issue one – and blame Microsoft.

“We’re bringing the first FEZ patch online, it’s the same patch,” he said in a letter overnight. “We’re not going to patch the patch. Why not? Because Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game.”

And yes, that sounds utterly bonkers, and it’s one of the things that makes Sony’s PSN stand out for smaller developers.

The problem with (the quite lovely) Fez is that the first patch actually introduced a fairly major bug – it corrupted the save games of a number of users. Phil says it’s “less than a percent” but that’s largely irrelevant, especially if it’s you that’s affected.

“It’s a shitty numbers game to be playing for sure, but as a small independent, paying so much money for patches makes NO SENSE AT ALL,” he adds, “especially when you consider the alternative. Had FEZ been released on Steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us.”

“If you hadn’t already seen most of what FEZ had to offer, your save file is probably safe. It doesn’t happen if you start a new game,” Fish claims, saying that he believes “the current patch is safe for an overwhelming majority of players.”

The patch does fix a lot, save game corruption aside: framerate issues, loading times, death loops. It originally came out a few weeks back but was pulled when the save game corruption issues appeared.

“To the less-than-1% who are getting screwed, we sincerely apologize,” he says. “We know this hurts you the most, because you’re the ones who put the most times into the game. And this breaks our hearts. We hope you dont think back on your time spent in FEZ as a total waste.”

“Microsoft gave us a choice: either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which for all we know could introduce new issues, for which we’d need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online.”

“We already owe microsoft a LOT of money for the privilege of being on their platform. People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM.”

Hardly an ideal situation, but where’s the real issue here? That Microsoft charge so much money for a patch to be certified, or that Phil Fish doesn’t want to pay it?

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58 Comments
  1. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    Although a few people will have been affected by this, it’s almost worth it to highlight MicroSoft as the problem – I certainly wasn’t aware of the cost(s) in further patching. Perhaps it could encourage MS to change their policy which would in turn encourage small developers to release through XBL without the fear of high patching costs.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:13.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      You’re not a dev why would you be aware of certification costs. They’ve chosen that path through the benefits it offered them, now they’re ducking out of the costs which help provide those benefits…. & it’s not like MS don’t allow a patch without having to pay certification costs, because you can patch your product for free. How would MS feel having to endlessly test & certify patches for dev who can’t get it right.

      Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:23.
      • Alex C
        One for all.
        Since: Forever

        Far as I know there are patch costs with Sony too, just not as high.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:28.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Thank you for your patronising first line. I don’t know much about it but can only make an assumption by what I’ve read. It seems to me – although it’s clear I could be wrong – that if Steam can allow patches for free (and Sony do it cheaper – according to Alex), that this seems to me an issue with MS going by the tone of this chaps’ comments. If they could lower the cost, then surely it would be a good thing. It’s not like this developer isn’t ignoring problems that all other developers (some on a larger scale) ignore.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:39.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        I do agree they should be responsible for the costs of the patch, not MS, I can’t imagine the costs were a surprise – they obviously didn’t expect to make the mistakes they did. I guess it just hits a smaller developer harder.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:45.
      • IAmJacksMedullaOblongata
        Member
        Since: Nov 2011

        http://www.hookshotinc.com/interview-schafers-millions/

        “But there are frustrations, too. Schafer has watched the Xbox Live Arcade and PSN services dwindle away from fantastically promising beginnings to troubled, even fading services

        ‘The indie community is now moving elsewhere; we’re figuring out how to fund and distribute games ourselves, and we’re getting more control over them. Those systems as great as they are, they’re still closed. You have to jump through a lot of hoops, even for important stuff like patching and supporting your game. Those are things we really want to do, but we can’t do it on these systems. I mean, it costs $40,000 to put up a patch – we can’t afford that!'”

        SYSTEMS. Plural. $40,000.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:22.
      • KeRaSh
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        They should check out the OUYA. I’ve heard it’s a pretty open system. ;)

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:49.
      • Youles
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        STEAM. Free. $0.00.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 12:31.
      • An-dz
        Member
        Since: Oct 2010

        Im sure i read somewhere that PSNs charge is about £40,000 which is still ridiculous. That could have just been someone guessing though.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 12:42.
      • FRUIT0FDOOM
        Member
        Since: Aug 2009

        This
        Devs should also be discouraged to assume any issues can just be patched later on! One of the things bugging me is developers releasing faulty games with the attitude of letting gamers discover the issues and then releasing a fix.
        If it was a product in retail – you take it back for a refund, not so they can slap a little tape on it and tell you it’s fixed now.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 13:01.
      • Crocadillian
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        What the heck! They shouldn’t be charging for this, they got one small thing wrong out of a whole load of fixes, and it’s in their best interest to keep customers of their platform happy, not to mention a laundry list of other reasons why this is just wrong. o-o

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 14:42.
  2. baggyg
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    That’s sad. Although I thought to release something on marketplace was a one off payment of $99? Hopefully we’ll see a PC version now

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:16.
  3. cc_star
    Team TSA: Writer
    Since: Forever

    Phil was happy enough to go with 360 over PC/Steam, because being exclusive on q platform usually means you get an uplift in sales without having to develop for an extra platform.

    Seems Phil weighed up all the costs & benefits & decided on their course of action & now they’re not happy because they wanted all the benefits but want to weasel out of the costs.

    Should be lying in the bed they made rather than having some people who’ve given them money lose out because a) their game had bugs b) their patch had bugs.

    Poor show.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:18.
    • blarty
      Member
      Since: Apr 2011

      Isn’t patch and re-certification costs the reason why Vavlve didn’t support The Orange Box properly because the XBL process is ‘a train wreck’?

      Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:00.
    • Burgess_101
      Member
      Since: May 2009

      I certainly feel Fez was perfect for the current PC market with everyone yearning for some indie gaming action. I really used to just think he was an egotistical nob head but after watching “indie game the movie”, I realise he still is a nob but he has talent.

      Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 11:46.
  4. CNWLshadow
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    As a developer he should of be aware of all of this from the start. So should of been prepared to to shell out for multiple patch’s. If he wasn’t prepared to pay Microsoft fees’ then the game should of never been released on XBLA.

    “especially when you consider the alternative. Had FEZ been released on Steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us.”

    So why didn’t he.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:20.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      It would have been just another indie game, going with a console especially one exclusively means you stand out & would sell a bit more. IMO it’s a poor show to leave some customers inconvenienced by the path that you have chosen to go down.

      Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:37.
    • unwanted
      Member
      Since: Jul 2012

      I bet he knew the costs involved, I bet he just didn’t read the contract that it was written on, just like he didn’t read “programming for Dummies” section about de-bugging software before going live…

      Comment posted on 20/07/2012 at 09:10.
  5. Paranoimia
    Member
    Since: Aug 2008

    If what he says is true, it makes me wonder why anyone but the largest developers would bother with XBLA at all, especially exclusively… especially when (a) there’s Steam, and (b) PSN seems to offer a far better deal all round for smaller developers, with an audience which – let’s face it – pretty much the same size, if not larger in global terms.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:26.
    • Dazbobaby
      Member
      Since: Aug 2010

      The benefit of XBL over PSN is language.
      America is a big market with the vast majority of users speaking English. PSN however has a large global market but with a multitude of different languages that have to be catered for.

      Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:48.
  6. Forrest_01
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    It’s simple people – Get your game right from the off & you won’t have to pay for additional patches.

    I see his frustration, but if games were properly tested & released complete this gen (like so many aren’t) this wouldn’t even be an issue.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:31.
    • Nickboss1
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      Forrest would you mind if i sent your comment to bestheda oh and bioware oh and blizzard?

      Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 11:43.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        There are many that could learn a thing or two from my divine wisdom! :D

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 12:21.
      • An-dz
        Member
        Since: Oct 2010

        Dam right though could do that, a small group of players could pick up a huge number of the bugs. ( particulary in bestheda games ) and save them alot of the trouble they go through for not having play tested it enough themselves.

        Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 12:45.
    • unwanted
      Member
      Since: Jul 2012

      To many companies use this as a business model… “chuck it out now and patch it later”…

      its a friggin nice surprise when you get a new game, first day of release and it dosnt need a patch on inserting the disk, and you can play it from the off…

      Comment posted on 20/07/2012 at 10:05.
  7. gernboes
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    serves him right for choosing the xbox-exclusive path… a pity for the gamers though…

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 09:54.
  8. IAmJacksMedullaOblongata
    Member
    Since: Nov 2011

    I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that certification on Sony costs less (or even much less). Are you basing that on a hunch? Or do you know that for a fact?

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:04.
  9. Omac_brother
    Member
    Since: Nov 2011

    Problem seems 2 fold. A developer who is not willing to part with profits to pay to fix a problem that effects what they consider to be a negligable amount of players and Microsoft charging high values for patches.
    With all the will in the world, no matter how much testing you do, something will always slip through the net and Microsoft should recognise this and reduce patch charges. Paerhaps an increasing value per patch?
    But for a devloper to call them out as why they arnt going to be patching a game? Bad form.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:20.
  10. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    the guy behind this already comes across as a dick, and now he’s say it’s not worth fixing the patch he, or his company, put out because it doesn’t effect enough people.

    firstly, how many people does it take before this is wrong?

    secondly, how short sighted of him, it may cost more now, but when he releases his next game, people will remember this.
    they’ll remember him as somebody who doesn’t fix the problems he created.

    it’ll cost a lot more in the long run.

    how many sales has rez had so far anyway?
    that should give some idea of how many people might be affected, assuming you believe that less then 1% line, which i don’t.

    i really don’t know why this game got all the coverage it did, months and years before it ever released, maybe because the guy behind it is better at self promotion than making games.
    it’s not like it’s particularly unique, from what i’ve seen of it anyway, which admittedly isn’t a great deal.

    Comment posted on 19/07/2012 at 10:27.
    • unwanted
      Member
      Since: Jul 2012

      sales figures for Fez are over 100,000 copies sold, nice bit of money there to put a little back into fixing a buggy product…

      Comment posted on 20/07/2012 at 10:11.

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