Microsoft wants “tens of thousands of dollars” for Polytron to fix its game.
While patches for released games are normally meant to fix issues, they occasionally introduce new ones. Worst of these is the dreaded save killer, a patch that somehow corrupts existing saves when it’s applied. Indie developer Polytron encountered this with its first patch for Fez, the colorful puzzle-platformer released on XBLA a few months ago. Microsoft pulled the offending patch a few weeks ago and Polytron promised to look into it. The good news is, the patch is going back online. The bad news is, it’s the exact same patch.
Polytron cited the overwhelming costs of issuing a new patch, which requires re-certification and testing by Microsoft, which in turn would run the studio “tens of thousands of dollars.” In its investigation of the bug, Polytron further determined that the savegame corruption affects less than one percent of players, only corrupting save files created without the patch near the end of the game. Polytron offered apologies to the players who are affected, stating that the move “breaks our hearts.”
Polytron also expressed a degree of frustration with the situation, pointing out that this decision was necessitated by Microsoft’s limited patching options. “Had Fez been released on Steam instead of XBLA,” the developer stated, “the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us.” The studio further explained that, rather than getting paid for exclusively releasing Fez on XBLA, money traveled the other way. “People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform,” Polytron stated. “Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM.”
Update: Microsoft told Kotaku that it supports Polytron’s and investor Trapdoor’s decision to not release a new patch. It also stated, “while we do not disclose the cost of Title Updates, we did offer to work with Trapdoor to make sure that wasn’t a blocking issue.”