NEWS - Thursday, June 27, 2013

MS no longer charging devs fees to patch games

Have you heard the news, Star Trek? You can now afford to be as buggy as you wanna be (at launch).


Microsoft no longer charges developers for Xbox 360 title updates, Eurogamer has been told by multiple development sources.

Microsoft made the policy change on the quiet earlier this year after charging developers tens of thousands of dollars to patch their games.

Microsoft has always charged a fee when developers first submit their games to Microsoft’s certification process so they can be approved for release, and the company normally grants developers one title update free of charge. This remains the case, but sources have told Eurogamer that subsequent re-certification as a result of a title update is now free. This applies to Xbox Live Arcade games and full retail games.

There are caveats, we understand. If a developer is deemed to be making an excessive number of re-submissions due to an update failing certification, for example, Microsoft reserves the right to issue a charge. But the changes should make critics of Microsoft’s closed platform happier - and align the Xbox ecosystem more closely with the likes of Steam.

Microsoft’s title update fee was designed to encourage Xbox developers to spend as much time as possible making sure their games were up to scratch before they were released. The change comes over seven years after the Xbox 360 was released.

A number of developers have complained about Microsoft’s patching costs over the years. In an interview from February 2012 with Hookshot Double Fine boss Tim Schafer mentioned the $40,000 cost to patch Xbox 360 games.

"We can’t afford that!" he said at the time.

And in July 2012 Fez developer Polytron decided to re-issue a patch that corrupted a small minority of player’s save files because fixing it would require the very costly process of getting the game re-certified.

At the time Fez developer Phil Fish praised Steam, explaining that the PC platform’s model would have alleviated the problem. "Had Fez been released on Steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us," he said. "And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too!"

Fish declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer about this latest development.

All eyes now turn to Xbox One, due out in November, which many developers hope will be a more open system than the Xbox 360.



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