First Person

First Person
Why Phil Fish Ought To Patch Fez

Dennis C. Scimeca | 19 Jul 2012 22:00
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I think that's a healthy answer. These developers don't want special treatment, they don't want to be thought of as plucky men and women fighting against the odds to make their games, they just want to make great games we're all happy with. And in my mind, that credo is essential to the indie development world maintaining its current position of relevance.

An indie developer is an individual or a studio that aims to produce a game that is just as good as any AAA title but with a fraction of the budget and the staff. A really good indie game makes the point that quality isn't about the power of the game engine or the explosiveness and action of the plot, but the strength of the game mechanics and whether the game has any creative heart. Everything else is just gravy. By holding themselves on the same plane as the AAA development studios, indies serve as a constant reminder that the old way of doing things isn't the only or necessarily the best way to do them.

Fish also had this to say in his statement on the Polytron website:

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!

So why wasn't the game released on Steam? If Fish did his due diligence and realized that he couldn't support Fez properly on Xbox Live due to the prohibitive patching costs, why didn't he pursue a different option? And if Fish didn't conduct due diligence and realize that he couldn't support Fez on XBLA, why should his customers suffer for his negligence? There's a cost of doing business and rather than pay up Fish is trying to lay the blame on Microsoft somehow.

Again to be fair, for a small development studio like Polytron patching Fez to the tune of $40k isn't something to take lightly. Bethesda may be able to plunk $40k down over and over again to fix the buggy software they seem fond of releasing but Phil Fish can't. That said, wouldn't the right course of action be for Fish to publish one more Fez patch to fix the save game issue and then drop support for the game?

Says Fish:

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.

It makes all the sense in the world. It's called taking care of your customer and living up to your obligations. Sometimes that's a little painful but it's the right thing to do, and the customer remembers. Hopefully Phil Fish will make better business decisions going forward about which platforms he releases on, and he will plan adequately for long-term support instead of claiming special status when something goes wrong and it will put him out of pocket. Most indie developers I know want to be considered just as legit as AAA studios. They do not want to be thought of as sitting at the kids' table.

Dennis Scimeca is a freelance writer from Boston, MA. You can read some of his other musings on his blog punchingsnakes.com, or follow his random excitations on Twitter: @DennisScimeca.

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