Fez is getting another update, and it is fittingly, conceptually, rather puzzling. Having broken saves and hearts alike, the recently pulled patch will be returning to the game due to the financial implications associated with fixing it.
Announced by Phil Fish himself on the Polytron blog, this unfortunate patch re-issue is the result of Microsoft requiring the game to be re-certified if a fix was to be applied. The going rate to ensure that a game hosted on the XBLA service works for all those that bought it? Tens of thousands of pounds:
“Microsoft gave us a choice: either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which for all we know could introduce new issues, for which we’d need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online. They looked into it, and the issue happens so rarely that they still consider the patch to be ‘good enough’.”
The post then goes on to clarify Polytron‘s relationship with Microsoft, dispelling the idea that exclusivity means financial security:
“In the end, paying such a large sum of money to jump through so many hoops just doesn’t make any sense. We already owe Microsoft a LOT of money for the privilege of being on their platform. People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM.”
With 1% of players being affected it is simply unreasonable for anyone to expect Polytron to be able to pay for the re-certification, but as Fish went on to point out, this is a far more restrictive system than used by other digital distribution platforms:
“As a small independent, paying so much money for patches makes NO SENSE AT ALL. especially when you consider the alternative. 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.”
The patch itself significantly improvs the game by addressing the overwhelming majority of launch-day bugs, and so whilst apologetic Polytron have decided that re-issuing it is the best approach:
“For 99% of people, it makes FEZ a better game. To the less-than-1% who are getting screwed, we sincerely apologize. We know this hurts you the most, because you’re the ones who put the most times into the game. And this breaks our hearts. We hope you dont think back on your time spent in FEZ as a total waste.”
Promoting indie games by giving developers an expensive and restrictive platform is a somewhat confused mission statement. The error may only affect a few players, but it has brought the flaws of the XBLA system once again into the fore. People were waiting for the release of Fez for a long time, and unless this issue is resolved some may have to wait until the exclusivity agreement elapses before experiencing it in its entirety.