Why Phil Fish Ought To Patch Fez

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Dennis Scimeca:
Why Phil Fish Ought To Patch Fez

Indie developers don't always deserve special treatment.

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Hopefully the response to this will let Fish know how people see this: "take the money and run."

While it's sad to think that this is another case of "plucky, naive young developers" getting swallowed by the "big, bad publisher legal-ese machine," framing it that way isn't going to teach people a lesson about big, bad publishers.

It's going to teach them a lesson about buying products from the little guy.

(This same kind of thing comes up in other areas. I can return just about any faulty product, for any reason, to my local Wal-Mart... but if I buy something from the Mom-'n-Pops hardware store, I've got all kinds of requirements on me and a restocking fee. It doesn't exactly give me the best feeling about supporting a smaller store that won't support me back.)

The Random One:
I broadly agree, but in this case I have to side with Fish, may DeGroot forgive me. Microsoft ostensively charges that due to their verification process. Shouldn't that verification have found the patch'es errors? I'm not saying that's not Polytron's responsability, but when Microsoft charges that much money to verify a patch they must also assume some responsability for it if it fucks up.

I find your second point flawless though. We all know Fish took Microsoft's offer for a buttload of cash, making it an exclusive even though Microsoft hasn't been a healthy place for indies in years, if it ever was. You reap what you sow.

Don't forget that MS came out and said they were willing to work with him on the price of releasing a patch. He is just too cheap.

Fish trying to blame Microsoft is a pretty lame move. Sure, maybe Microsoft's certification costs are ridiculously high, but nobody made Fish sign an exclusivity deal with them. It was his company's decision and his company is in the business of providing content to consumers, and Fish would rather deny his paying customers that content than pay to fix it. His decision, but don't go blaming Microsoft.

Phil Fish, in my opinion, is a bit of a tool. Not because of the "Japanese-games-suck" thing--I was on his side over that--but after watching Indie Game: The Movie and reading this, he seems to just blame other people and act like a rock star. FEZ is a solid game, but so is this Flash game.

He seems like an average developer who is pretending to be a genius and I think people are justified to get pissed off over his act.

I'm blaming microsoft for this one. The company clearly wanted to fix the problem, but cannot, because of draconian problems with microsoft.

Dennis Scimeca:
I am not sure how Fish arrived at the figure of one percent considering the problem was originally reported as "fairly widespread," and also in light of Fish's comments shortly after the release of Fez that getting sales information out of Microsoft was quite difficult.

There are two datasets that developers do have very reliable access to: Achievements (progression) and Leaderboards (playerbase).
Leaderboards are a very accurate estimate of digital players, but they have to assume that some people connect online to purchase and download, but don't connect to play.

Just as a rough example, if Polytron can see that 1% of all Fez owners have the endgame achievements/percentages, and the bug is known to affect 90% of endgame players, that will give them <1%. It's a leap of logic but not an unexpected one. What does Microsoft say every time 360s start bricking after a console update? A "small minority" of users. It's damage control pure and simple; you DON'T get specific, or you get your ass class-actioned.

Dennis Scimeca:
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?

I hate to turn this wordplay around on ya Dennis, but if you did your due diligence you'd be able to quote Fish himself on this point from 2011.


"Fez is a console game, not a PC game," he states, emphatically. "It's made to be played with a controller, on a couch, on a Saturday morning. To me, that matters; that's part of the medium." I get so many comments shouting at me that I'm an idiot for not making a PC version. 'You'd make so much more money! Can't you see? Meatboy sold more on Steam!' Good for them. But this matters more to me than sales or revenue. It's a console game on a console. End of story."
As for why Polytron decided on Xbox Live specifically, Fish won't be drawn, directly. "It's what made the most sense when we signed with them." he says, before adding cryptically: "If we had to do everything again today, maybe we wouldn't go down the same route, but it still makes a lot of sense today."

"Artistic Integrity" was his core defense a year ago. And a year later, we get the quote of:

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!

That is a quaint statement of fact, but I think objectively speaking the man just voided his integrity, as an observation of the facts. Goddammit I love his game, but he is singing whatever tune suits his mood swings. I don't believe this kind of behaviour is a conscious about-face. Sumthin ain't right with the boy. I've always complimented the game and his accomplishments. I don't dislike him because he shoots his mouth off, I don't call him a douche for having less tact than the average snooty francophone Canuck, I think he's eccentrically broke in the head and that it's a damn shame. I think dude has issues, and I think I can empathise. Taking my own self-loathing out of the equation, I think all these Indie Boys have added more colour to the industry than we've seen since the days of Trip Hawkins. ;)

It's also funny to note that the NOW article also mentions he "had a falling out" with Dyad's Shawn McGrath. So BOTH McGrath and DeGroot couldn't get anything done with this guy. Anyone taking bets on Trapdoor moving on sooner or later?


Dennis Scimeca:
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?

I hate to turn this wordplay around on ya Dennis, but if you did your due diligence you'd be able to quote Fish himself on this point from 2011....

Don't worry about it, because you didn't. :P

What Phil Fish's motivations were for publishing exclusively on Xbox Live are completely moot to my argument. The point stands - by making that decision he willingly signed up for $40,000 a patch.

Generally-speaking, creatives have to learn that they can't always have what they want. An indie film maker might want to have a huge special effects budget but if they can't get that kind of money they write around the need for effects in the script. If Fish wasn't willing to commit to the expense of console support, he could have altered his idea for the game and instead of making a "sit down on the couch Saturday morning console game," taken precisely the same idea and coded it for PC and Steam instead, and then went to console later after he'd made some money (or not) and could open up an entirely new revenue stream to support the game on that new platform.

Good article, but the titular question doesn't get answered until the last paragraph, and the answer ("because it's the right thing to do") is lame. The title should be "Why Phil Fish Is A Greedy Scumbag".

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