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In Other News – 24 April 2014

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Devs can now patch their Xbox 360 games for free

Fez

Last year, we told you how developers had to pay up to $40 000 to get their own games patched on consoles – which is why some indie games, like Polytron’s Fez, are stuck on Xbox Live in a near-broken state; the developers just can’t afford to fix them. That’s now changed – as Microsoft has axed the fees for Title Updates on both retail and XBLA games.

Microsoft has generally charged studios to patch their games as they have to undergo a certification approval process each time; a process that costs several thousand dollars – and is one of the reasons indies haven’t quite been so keen on releasing their games on the 360.

On one hand, this is a good thing. It means developers can actually patch and update their games without going broke, so games like Team Fortress 2 – which is far removed from the PC version of the game – might not be quite as rubbish as they are on the Xbox. Might we finally see patches for games like Fez, and Alpha Protocol? Probably not.

There’s also a caveat, in that Microsoft now reserves the right to charge if a submission repeatedly fails approval – but that’s really quite acceptable. 

The fee was put in place to ensure that devs and publishers put out high quality, working games in the first place – and now that they can nearly patch their games willy-nilly, we might see a few more unfinished games put to market.

"Microsoft eliminated fees for Title Updates on Xbox 360 Arcade games in April 2013," A Microsoft spokesperson told Polygon. "We’re constantly evaluating our policies and implementing feedback. While our development policies are confidential, and will remain so, we’re pleased to say that this is just one of many ongoing changes and improvements we’ve made to ensure Xbox is the best place possible for developers and gamers."

This news likely makes Bethesda rather happy, as they will now save at least a billion dollars with each of their games. It could also be the start of a new wave of indie games on Microsoft’s platforms, a sector that the company’s been neglecting of late.

Hopefully, this policy continues through to the Xbox One, because it’s too little, too late for the Xbox 360.

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    This news likely makes Bethesda rather happy …… I lol’d so hard at this ………

  • Captain Minion TallTwit

    Microsoft… look foolish?
    They are capable of anything! Trololl…

    • RinceWind

      Hahah! This is very true. But as @0057b1b27cb46b94f9191c4c7251a732:disqus said below, I think they are trying to claw their way back into everyones good books…

      • Captain Minion TallTwit

        I hope so too.
        On that note… MOAR COFFEE!!!!

        • Hammersteyn

          I think I’m a zombie but instead of brains I live of coffee.

          • Captain Minion TallTwit

            You and me both.

  • TiMsTeR1033

    They should of made sure the games were perfect to begin with! I for one believe the companies should get fined for shitty production values!

    • Hammersteyn

      But $40 000? It’s tantamount to this…
      http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/aLKKb6A_460sa.gif

      • Captain Minion TallTwit

        BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

      • Umar Kiiroi Senk?

        OH man… just made my day!!

      • RinceWind

        Hahahah! What is this from! TELL ME!

        • Hammersteyn

          Jackass 3.5

          • RinceWind

            You get a Bells for that! You can slip it into your coffee, god I wish I was doing that (the Bells, not the rocket up my arse) right now…

          • Hammersteyn

            Don’t kid! I am very close to start drinking on the job. Spicing up my coffee as it were.

          • RinceWind

            Mmm, would whisky show on the breath though. Perhaps vodka?

          • Hammersteyn

            I don’t think it will, depends on the amount of shots I would think. Will try it later at home maybe.

      • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

        You just made me laugh way too hard

  • Hammersteyn

    I think MS is now very wary of what PS does and follows suit to prevent losing more face.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      And to think they were adamant that Sony wasn’t their competitor any more. Have to love it when corporations have to eat crow.

      • Argentil

        If they really want to one-up Sony, they should make 360 development free, and allow self-publishing. That way, the 360 could exist as an indie platform.

      • Hammersteyn

        With the policies they had in place for the X1 I believe they thought that their 360 users wouldn’t mind the DRM and online requirement or sharing limitations and that there would be no way that their supporters would switch to PS, that is until they saw the preorders. If you treat your customers like shit they will walk.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          A valuable lesson for those MBA sods. I wonder if this will become a module or a case study in business school. hahaha!

          “The client or customer comes first – revisiting an old paradigm via lessons learnt at Microsoft”

  • Argentil

    About time. A lot of indie devs have been publicly outraged at the ridiculous patching fee. This coupled with the newly announced Unity support (as of yesterday) on both 360 and One should bring them closer to Sony’s indie utopia.

  • Trevor Davies

    lol @ Bethesda slam.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    That my friends is what it looks like when a company overplayed its hand, and is now forced to backtrack to get the egg of its face. Make no mistake, if MIcrosoft could they would squeeze you dry, but for now… slow clap!

    • Hammersteyn

      That’s why Windows OS really needs a global competitor, Apple is too 1st world and linux well, not enough people can use/support it.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    I wonder if the success of Minecraft on XBLA might have had anything to do with this, especially given Notch’s recent comments about boycotting the xbone. Since folks like Don Mattrick and Larry Hyeb (yes even the Major) only see the green in your wallet, the possibility of not filling their own wallets with more cash, must have left a couple of the suits a little anxious over the course of the last few weeks.

  • RinceWind

    Well, they are trying hard I must say. Oh, by the by people, Fable 3 is available for Free on XboxLive today… Once you have downloaded your 10 games from PSN

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      lol the worst Fable game is free… yaayyy! Nah, I’m going to download Catherine and then Hitman on PSN instead.

      • RinceWind

        I hate you. *steps on banana and slips. Damn you again…

      • RinceWind

        I hope this happens to you today! Grrrr

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          LOL!!!

      • Hammersteyn

        Loved Catherine, needs a sequel.

        • CaptainNemo42

          Only started it this week (Thank you PSN+). And man what a weird and wonderful game.

          • Hammersteyn

            Japanese, I tell you.

          • CaptainNemo42

            You gotta love ‘em

      • CaptainNemo42

        And on 3 July we get Battlefield 3, Payday the Heist and a game I really want to play… Saints Row The Third.

        Not to mention the PS VITA goodies.

      • Concerned

        “worst Fable”? Ever played Fable Journey?

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Point taken! I actually forgot about Fable the Journey… hahaha!

    • Hammersteyn

      Well done XBOX :) I know it’s not as cool as a Steam special (waits for the Admiral) but they also have specials on the store from time to time. I picked up Tekken 2 for R22. Maybe cause I’m nostalgic who knows but I have fond memories of it.

      • RinceWind

        Agreed. Fable 3 is not the best in the series, but is John Cleese in it, and I’ll download it just for that! lol Free is free, free = awesome.

        • Hammersteyn

          I’m just glad MS is starting to give games away. That will keep PS on it’s toes.

          • RinceWind

            Yeah, just too them long enough!

          • Hammersteyn

            Took them long enough to realize that people might actually really switch over to PS4

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            At least they came to their senses, which means SONY will have to up their game, which means my PS4 purchase will be glorious!

            Now if only Nintendo can get its act together.

          • Hammersteyn

            I miss Mario sometimes :(

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            lol exactly, if Sony had any plans to stop, now they can’t. THANK YOU HEALTHY COMPETITION, THANK YOU FREE GAMES!

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    One step forward, three steps backwards, and a self-afflicted DDT on the stone floor… I think I understand Microsoft’s business plan now – chaotic incompetence

    http://gigaom.com/2013/06/27/microsoft-makes-it-harder-to-smaller-developers-to-build-off-kinect/

    • Hammersteyn

      Seriously. WTF is up with MS?

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Don Mattrick’s jacket compels him! It’s the only logical explanation.

        • RinceWind

          Agreed. He takes it off to go to sleep, but when he awakes… It’s back on 0-O

    • Trevor Davies

      Only work with licensed hardware & software? Oh yes! Those hackers & modders are well & truly foiled by a license.

  • Trevor Davies

    I feel a bit of sympathy towards MS for this. I think the whole point of the fee was to stop people from releasing broken games and/or creating a higher barrier for entry to prevent the system being flooded. It’s a bit disingenuous for indies to go into it knowing the rules, then complaining when they fall afoul of them. Saying you’re “indie” doesn’t give you a free pass or entitle you to special treatment.

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Although on the other hand, the fee actually perpetuated broken games. It made it impossible for smaller indie devs to make good on their promises of patched games or additional content.

      • Trevor Davies

        If I remember correctly didn’t they get one free patch, or is this some weird dimension where it’s possible for me to be wrong? :D

        I think they were trying to ensure that when something gets released that it just works as intended from day one because everyone complains about games needing constant patching. They probably could have gone about it in a different way to make things better for devs & customers though.

    • Hammersteyn

      Agreed, but $40 000? Why that much? Ms can see how many people purchased the indies game and they can charge on a scale can’t they? With the max being $40 000

      • Trevor Davies

        Because it costs MS money to deal with this as well, but $40k is a bit exorbitant. There’s actually three certainties in life – death, taxes & corporate profit gouging.

  • https://twitter.com/jGLZA_b00 jGLZA

    Good news for the 360, will they be do the same for the XBone though?

  • Mootles

    Too little too late.

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