Fez, one of this year’s most hotly anticipated indie games, came out a couple months back and received reviews so enthusiastic they bordered on obscene. The game had a few bugs, but hey, that s–t happens when a game is put together by a team of two guys. Fez developer Polytron put out a patch to fix the bugs, but then things got complicated — the patch introduced a new bug that wiped out some players’ save files. Polytron pulled the patch and promised a fixed version in the future.
Well, it’s been around a month, the patch is back and it hasn’t been fixed. It’s the same patch released before, complete with save file wiping bug. Polytron has intentionally re-released a broken patch. Why? Because due to the intricacies of Xbox Live, it would cost Polytron too much to fix it. Hit the jump to read what the Polytron Team had to say for themselves…
“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.”
Tens of thousands may not sound like that much, but it’s no small potatoes for a small-time developer like Polytron. The Polytron Team then attempted to justify re-releasing the patch on the basis that only a small percentage of players will be effected by the save file bug…
“And because as it turns out, the save file delete bug only happens to less than a percent of players. It’s a s–tty 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!
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.”
A bit too much buck-passing from the Polytron guys for my likings, but still, this situation really underlines the unfortunate fact that console download services like Xbox Live just aren’t set up for indie developers. Sure, there have been indie successes on consoles like Braid and Journey, but for every success there are just as many messy situations like what we’ve seen with Fez. Hopefully as we move onto the next generation of gaming machines, console makers institute some more indie-friendly rules and regulations for their download services.