Close
Report Comment to a Moderator Our Moderators review all comments for abusive and offensive language, and ensure comments are from Verified Users only.
Please report a comment only if you feel it requires our urgent attention.
I understand, report it. Cancel

Fez developer won't fix corrupting patch for financial reasons

Fez developer won't fix corrupting patch for financial reasons

Thu 19 Jul 2012 8:36am GMT / 4:36am EDT / 1:36am PDT
Development

"Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars," claims Fish

Fez developer Polytron has said it will not fix a patch for its game because the costs are too high.

The patch corrupted save files on the Xbox Live Arcade game, but Polytron claims only a small percentage of players are affected and the costs imposed by Microsoft are too expensive.

"Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game," write Polytron's Phil Fish on the company blog.

"And because as it turns out, the save file delete bug only happens to less than a percent of players. 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. 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. And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too," he added.

The current patch, which was recently pulled, fixes major issues with the game, according to Polytron.

"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. They looked into it, and the issue happens so rarely that they still consider the patch to be "good enough"," he added.

"It wasn't an easy decision, but in the end, paying such a large sum of money to jump through so many hoops just doesn't make any sense. 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."

Fez has sold over 100,000 copies on Xbox Live Arcade.

Phil Fish is a divisive figure in the indie games circuit, having upset the Japanese development community with comments at the Game Developers Conference. He now refuses to speak with the press.

20 Comments

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
Why no PC version then? I was looking forward to this initially but after my experiences of console digital purchases there's no way I'm touching another one.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
Pc version will probably come once the exclusivity deal is off. In general, they tend to be bound to the platform for 6 months.

Would be a terrible decision not to make a PC version of this. And I'm positive that the game already runs just fine on the PC.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Mats Holm Technical Process Analyst, EA BioWare

55 50 0.9
Poor Mr Fish, always speaking the truth and always getting bashed for it.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Why even release it on XBLA in the 1st place? Its not like it's a better platform and Fez already had tons of hype.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water

33 29 0.9
With all due respect. If MS are like Sony, and an issue this severe slips through Certification, then MS are liable for retesting for free on a re-submission.

The only time this would NOT be the case, is if they failed submission X times.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stewart Gilray on 19th July 2012 12:08pm

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
@ Mats - "Poor Mr Fish, always speaking the truth and always getting bashed for it."

I can’t say I agree with you there. I mean, I understand in this instance that it probably doesn’t make fiscal sense for Polytron to release a different patch if it would end up costing them tens of thousands of dollars, but how about looking at it from the perspective of a consumer who has, I don’t know, 20 hours of data corrupted by a fault that Fish and co. have acknowledged but refuse to address? It’s not going to get them much goodwill around the hardcore community.

As for ‘always’ speaking the truth, I would hardly consider a blanket statement saying Japanese games “just suck” truthful, unless you wilfully ignore the likes of Mario, Zelda, PlatinumGames’ entire output, Demon’s/Dark Souls, Catherine, Binary Domain, Dragon’s Dogma, Gravity Rush, Resi Revelations; and these are fairly recent releases just off the top of my head.

Fez seems to have done reasonably well, but I think it would have benefitted massively from a better release window – coming out a couple of weeks before Trials Evolution and then with Minecraft a couple of weeks after that seems like a poor choice as it was massively overshadowed. No doubt it will sell better when it finally comes to Steam, presumably after the typical 12 month Live exclusivity window.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Tim Browne Lead Game Designer, Ubisoft Annecy

21 51 2.4
Popular Comment
This sort of thing really irks me.

They signed an exclusivety deal with Microsoft (which runs out in a few months time). Every devloper (big and small) knows that you get 1 free patch / Title Update to fix any issue or serious problems with your game and after that you have to pay. This is not Microsoft trying to make more money out of developers. Its effectively a penalty for not testing your game thoroughly enough. This is to keep standards and quality high at launch and not treat the console as a PC game that continually needs patches every 2 weeks.

If Polytron are going to play the 'we're independent' card and can't afford it despite selling a lot of copies of the game through XBLA then perhaps they should have not gone for XBLA. Instead the could have choosen Steam where they could treat it like the PC market and patch as many times as they wanted. They could have published in the Indie section of XBLA. I'm not entirely sure what the policy is there for patching but I'd imagine there are much less harsh terms than those imposed on full Arcade titles and Retail disc titles.

I have no sympathy for Polytron and I really don't like how they are blaming Microsoft for their short comings. If you only have 1 chance at a fix, make damn sure it works otherwise be prepared to cough up for the 2nd patch. The same rule applies to all developers on XBLA.

The fact that the signed an exclusivity deal meant they got a lot more exposure and I have feeling they were part of an Arcade promotion earlier this year which can't have heart their sales.

So I'm afraid I totally disagree with a comment like "Poor Mr Fish, always speaking the truth and always getting bashed for it." I think that is totally wrong.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Tim Browne Lead Game Designer, Ubisoft Annecy

21 51 2.4
Incidentally the really sad thing is the only people who suffer are the gamers out of this.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
@Sonat
Pc version will probably come once the exclusivity deal is off. In general, they tend to be bound to the platform for 6 months.

So what's the reasoning behind this little except then?

"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."

Maybe someone more familiar with exclusivity deals and 360 marketplace can enlighten me: If the dev is paying for exclusivity then why would you do that when you don't have to pay and get on both? Or does MS require you to be exclusive to 360 if you're on it and you have to pay regardless to get on the system in the first place? If it's the case then I see no reason to release on XBL at all ever for non-game DLC because Steam would probably result in more sales (if you can get on it -Valve's choice and all that) and less restrictions - then you could always do a Minecraft and go on XBL afterwards...

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
@ James

Maybe they're referring to the cut MS take from every sale? I can't see any other way in which an indie developer would have to pay MS to be exclusive. That just makes me think of a nose/face analogy.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters

528 788 1.5
@Tim
I have no sympathy for Polytron and I really don't like how they are blaming Microsoft for their short comings. If you only have 1 chance at a fix, make damn sure it works otherwise be prepared to cough up for the 2nd patch.
A little harsh, I'd say. We're talking about a bug that affects less than 1% of players. They could have had a 100 testers and still not found it, and I bet they didn't have anywhere near that many. And even then, it also slipped past Microsoft's own certification testers, which makes them partially responsible too. 100% bug free software is impossible. All you can do is give it as much testing coverage as you can afford and hope you cover the majority of cases. But yes, they knew the score before they started.

Posted:2 years ago

#11
@James
Main reason could be the fact that it's pretty much an MS policy. If you publish on PS3 before coming to 360, they often say no thanks. Also with exclusivity they might be slightly looser on the release dates. XBLA schedules are tight, if you lose a deadline your game might not get another spot for several months, or if you lose the the planned launch date which was part of an event like summer arcade.

Unless your game is a really big deal (e.g. Cod dlc's, skyrim dlc arrives on 360 first exclusively and MS pay to get those deals), there is often no big benefit to this kind of deal, especially on the xbla side. In rare cases they might get a slightly better cut but I wouldn't say it's common.

MS will still take their royalty and they will still charge for Cert and patches after the very first one. Their QA teams don't work for free. But it's general knowledge and as they worked with MS for several years during Fez's development surely they knew how it works. This just smells like a blaming game to me.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Sonat Dennis Ozturk on 19th July 2012 3:47pm

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Nicholas Bennett Online Content Manager

3 0 0.0
Certification =/= QA

It's not like the Cert fees are free money for MS, they actually go towards paying the wages of the folks who actually do the work there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Bennett on 19th July 2012 4:52pm

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
In a way, this is QA for players to have a finished product.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Hugo Dubs on 19th July 2012 5:11pm

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer

240 99 0.4
My question is, what does this certification process mean? what does it include? because if it's tens of thousands of dollars then I expect MS to do a lot of testing and probing on it (which is mostly NOT the case)..

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Peter Ohlmann Technical Director

22 6 0.3
@Mr.Fish: start a Kickstarter project to finance the patch submission fees

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Liam Farrell

66 13 0.2
So this is what the "no refunds" policy of XBLA games is for then?

Posted:2 years ago

#17

James Verity

132 25 0.2
bet they didn't read the MS contract at all... also bet they didn't read the "Programming for Dummies" section about de-bugging and testing before release...

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Stewart Gilray Managing Director, Just Add Water

33 29 0.9
We did a project a for a small publisher once that actually used Nintendo submission as their QA company. After the 9th submission we stepped away from the project.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now