Microsoft Scraps Fee For Patches, Indie Developers Rejoice
I swear a representative from Microsoft is listening to our podcasts. Last week we debated the used games scenario heavily, only to have Microsoft announce the removal of DRM a day later. This week we spoke about the rather expensive fees Microsoft charges developers for releasing patches on the Xbox 360, making life especially tough for independent developers. Now, Microsoft has announced that they have scrapped the fee altogether.
Before we get to that though, why was Microsoft charging in the first place? The answer is simple really. Microsoft was discouraging developers from releasing titles that were essentially broken, charging them a rather huge fee to release patches. This helped build what is a really strong Xbox Live Marketplace today, but for some titles it’s not feasible. Games like DayZ would require multiple patches that cannot possibly be implemented before release. This had led to some recent backlash of the system from DayZ creator Dean Hall, as well as a sour Phil Fish who is still complaining about a patch he had to pay for in order for Fez to actually work properly after release.
But now, Microsoft has announced a rather large adjustment to the system. The company will no longer charge for patches, both for indie, arcade and retail games. Instead, Microsoft will monitor how many patches are released for a specific title, fining developers who continuous patch a game riddled with bugs. This seems like a more fair system for those who release a near perfect game, as they will now not be charge for small patches here and there. Additionally, it still encourages developers to release a game that is in working condition, or face what are sure to be exuberant fines.
More importantly is what this means for indie development on the Xbox One. We’ve all heard how the PS4 will allow self-publishing, but Sony have yet to detail how this will work. With these fees gone, Microsoft have made the Xbox One a highly attractive platform for indie developers once again, as the Xbox 360 featured some of this generation’s finest indie titles. They have stated that the system present on the Xbox 360 will make its way to the Xbox One, but with game changing announcements coming weekly now from the software giant, I wouldn’t put a self-publishing reveal beyond them.
Either way, it’s a win for everyone. Continue Microsoft.