In a caustic statement released by by Polytron’s Phil Fish, the developer says that the saved game destroying patch released at the end of June- and then quickly pulled down- will be released yet again without any fixes. The reason? Money. To be exact, lots of money. “Tens of thousands of dollars” according to the statement.
Calling it a “shitty numbers game” Fish explains that the bug that destroys saved games affects only 1% of users and thus not worth the cost as it makes the game better for the large majority of players. The developer apologized to those 1% of players and states- in capital letters- that had the game been released on Steam, the fix would have been released within weeks at no cost to them. A tweet from Polytron’s official twitter account notes “but HEY! only a few months left to our exclusivity!” hinting perhaps at a PC release.
In response, Micrsoft sent out this statement to various news sites:
Polytron and their investor, Trapdoor, made the decision not to work on an additional title update for FEZ. Microsoft Studios chose to support this decision based on the belief that Polytron/Trapdoor were in the best position to determine what the acceptable quality level is for their game.
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.
We remain huge fans of Fez.
As neither side has released details of the contractual agreement and this recent disagreement, it’s hard to pin down fault on a particular party, but it’s clear that the blameless victim here is the one-percent of Fez owners whose hard work will be destroyed by this patch should they choose to upload it.
An intersting development is that the link post containing Fish’s original statement has been taken down, currently leading to a 404 page. We’ve contacted Polytron about the removal, but have not received word at time of publishing.
Small developers expressing negative experiences with Microsoft isn’t a new trend. Both Team Meat and Jonathan Blow (developers of Super Meat Boy and Braid respectively) have voiced how pricing and release dates were out of their hands, and that promises made to them by the company failed to materialize.
While the access to Microsoft’s huge audience is attractive to many developers, the success of those same games on the PC platform and more lenient release restrictions have made the latter a more inviting option. Super Meat Boy managed to sell twice as many games on PC than it did on XBLA, and Zeboyd Games (developers of the recent Penny Arcade game entry) managed to sell four times as many copies of Breath of Death and Cthulhu Saves the World combined through Steam than they sold on XBLIG individually.
While it’s understandable as to why Microsoft would want to keep developers from constantly flooding players with updates and that the high cost of testing makes sure that studios do quality work in fixing bugs, their broad approach to the XBLA service is clearly driving developers away. Blow has already stated that he’s on fence about coming to consoles with his new game, The Witness.