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Xbox 360 Game Patching Costs $40,000

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the does-not-come-with-a-free-car dept.

XBox (Games) 256

hypnosec writes "It costs developers a total of $40,000 to release a single patch on Xbox Live, making it a difficult platform for smaller developers to grow on. This revelation was made by Tim Schafer of Double Fine Studios — which recently drew a lot of charitable donations as part of a campaign to create a contemporary point and click game. He went on to say that this is just too high a fee for smaller developers to pay, making it hard for them to do well on the platform. This makes sense, since requiring just one patch could massively cut into the profits for a company."

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256 comments

Get it right the first time (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037751)

Patches are not cheap to deploy, you've got to bother your customers and pay for bandwidth. It makes a whole lot more sense to put the effort into getting the right code onto the disc before it ships.

Re:Get it right the first time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39037801)

That's odd, since they're pretty cheap to deploy on the PC.

Re:Get it right the first time (1, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037819)

On a PC users expect there to be updates that fix things, many XBox units never see the Internet at all.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038037)

Do you have any data to support that claim? My anecdotal experience suggests that almost all Xbox 360s are connected to the internet. I struggle to think of a single one I've encountered first hand among friends and acquaintances, or by second-hand reference, that wasn't connected to the internet - at least, for the majority of its active time. I haven't done any studies but I strongly doubt your claim here.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038157)

Had mine since 2006. Never connected it once.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038159)

Because if your anecdotal evidence doesn't show it it must be true!

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038161)

about 25% of 360's and PS3's don't have internet. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/28058/Study_PS3_Has_Highest_Percentage_Of_Connected_Consoles.php

But Xbox and PS3 still require updates to play new games, so you're getting system software via disks one way or another. Game updates, well, your game might just not work as well. But, a lot of the updates pushed are specifically about multiplayer or DLC anyway, and if you don't have internet you don't care about multiplayer or DLC.

The big thing is that the console makers have testing guidelines you have to meet for your game, and design requirements (non interactive loading screens can only be so long that kind of thing). They force you to do a lot first, or you don't get to sell your game with them. With the PC if you run out of money release what you have, use the money you make to patch in fixes and start the next one. That's a sad commentary on the business but these things happen.

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Insightful)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037927)

In this case the patches also have to go through the console's usual certification process which obviously involves Microsoft or Sony employees spending time on it. Also remember that until the current generation of consoles, games were expected to work right out of the box and not need patching. Obviously that didn't always happen, as anyone who's used cheat devices like Gameshark can attest to some big sellers had many revisions over the years and games like Morrowind on Xbox had game-breaking bugs which required re-buying the "Game of the Year" edition to fix, but the idea is that console games should not be treated like PC titles where launch-day patches are almost expected.

I'm not defending the exact numbers, $40,000 does seem rather high, but between actually charging for the certification work, CDN space, and bandwidth used plus adding a "try to get it right the first time" charge it might not be unreasonable.

Re:Get it right the first time (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037979)

Hell, in this generation the consoles THEMSELVES are "ship now, patch later" bullshit... Xbox360, PS3, Wii, all of them constantly need "updates." And rarely do they ever improve functionality.

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038099)

Hell, in this generation the consoles THEMSELVES are "ship now, patch later" bullshit... Xbox360, PS3, Wii, all of them constantly need "updates." And rarely do they ever improve functionality.

Huh? The 360 and Wii have both gotten tons of features from those updates... the PS3 has as well, but it's also taken them away, so... meh.

Re:Get it right the first time (2, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038257)

Updates for the wii were mostly to try to keep ahead of pirated copies of games and break chipped consoles. The first year, every time I turned on the wii, it needed to update, and I was playing it every other day. It did not gain any real features in that time. The games started requiring the update as well. A friend of mine had a chipped wii and couldn't play legally purchased games as a result. At least until he took it back to the place he got it chipped for an update.

Minor inconvenience for him, slightly annoying to me, and an absolutely shitty thing to do to a kid who wants to play his legally-purchased game on his console but isn't fortunate enough to have a wifi connection to update.

By now the wii does have more features, though I don't know about a TON.

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038465)

AFAIK, the things the Wii has added:
- one or two channels (never gave a crap about them really). Not sure if channels qualify as "OS" since they are just apps like any Wii Store game.
- SDHC memory card support... sorta.
- "Play game from memory card"... works sorta, only if you keep enough of your Wii's tiny 512MB internal storage free to allow for swap space.
- Control drivers for the "Wii MotionPlus", which is the cheapest, chintziest way of adding gravity sensing using a tuning fork gyroscope... I mean seriously, would a couple accelerometers with decent sensitivity be too much to ask? I've got a joystick from the year 2000 [neoseeker.com] that has better motion sensitivity than a Wiimote + Motionplus working together. Sheesh.

What else did I miss? Anything? Bueller? Bueller?

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Informative)

Merk42 (1906718) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038485)

Minor inconvenience for him, slightly annoying to me, and an absolutely shitty thing to do to a kid who wants to play his legally-purchased game on his console but isn't fortunate enough to have a wifi connection to update.

If a Wii game requires a certain version of software, it is on the disc of the game. So while it is true you need to update to play, it's not true that you need the Internet to do so.

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038119)

In case you think I'm joking... out of the last 10 disc games I bought for the Xbox360, 9 had a 0-day patch already sitting on Xbox Live. Out of the last 10 games I bought on Xbox Live, 7 of 10 had a patch the day I bought it. NONE of the games I currently own for the 360 has gone unpatched. Not one. And to top it off, their "interface updates" made half the dashboard themes pointless and unusable, since most of the visuals wind up hidden behind that stupid bottom-half "grey shadow" area.

The Wii games aren't patchable (which got them into a bit of trouble when Metroid: Other M turned out to have a game-breaking bug) but how often have they pushed out console updates? And what have they done with them really? Except for the one that allowed for larger SD storage and the swap-trick to "play games" off of storage (really, just leaving internal storage blank and swapping the chosen item from SD into it on the fly), what have they actually patched? It doesn't seem they've done much of anything, certainly the interface never improved.

And let's not even get started with the garbage updates on the PS3, that actually REMOVED features...

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038325)

Nintendo has tried in vain to remove hacks like the Homebrew Channel. Many of the patches have been trying to stomp it out and closing the bugs that allowed it to be possible in the first place. I would guess the remaining ones have to do with their new "channels".

Re:Get it right the first time (3, Insightful)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038387)

Don't even get me started on Microsoft's boneheaded implementation of patching for games purchased on Live. Why the hell it downloads the original version then only bothers to patch when I want to actually play the game is mind boggling. If a title was released years ago and hasn't had a patch in quite some time, how hard can it be to make the version I'd download if I bought it today be patched right off the bat?

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038195)

And rarely do they ever improve functionality.

I'm guessing you didn't have a 360 pre-NXE. For one thing, they support a lot more video formats now and since the latest update (ugly MF that it is) is bringing a few more features even if they are useless to me.

Re:Get it right the first time (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038047)

$40,000 is approximately what it would cost to store and deliver 150 MB to 14 million people with Amazon CloudFront.

That's Call of Duty MW3 numbers using a 3rd party CDN at regular pricing.

I think it's safe to say MSFT is gouging on patch delivery.

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038275)

May I suggest that microsoft does more then serve as a pipe? Things like QC cost money.

Re:Get it right the first time (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038317)

Things like QC cost money assuming it's actually being done rather than the vendor taking your money.

It's kind of like that whole "support" thing.

Re:Get it right the first time (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038435)

If QC actually happened, would there be so many patches to begin with?

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038419)

I'm not saying the number isn't still high for most titles, but the console manufacturers do significant testing on all games and patches as well.

Add in a few hundred man-hours of work for the various mastering, verification, certification, and functional testing steps and that could easily be in the low 5 figures of labor cost...

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038473)

$40,000 is approximately what it would cost to store and deliver 150 MB to 14 million people with Amazon CloudFront.

That's Call of Duty MW3 numbers using a 3rd party CDN at regular pricing.

I think it's safe to say MSFT is gouging on patch delivery.

As of January 9, 2012, 66 million Xbox 360 consoles have been sold worldwide

If your target market is more than a quarter of the sold 360's (16.5 million), then MSFT are undercharging, by your figures. And your cost analysis doesn't include any compatibility, QA, or security testing. It's also meant as a disincentive for releasing broken games first then patching later. I think it's safe to say MSFT is doing the right thing on patch delivery, as much as that will unfortunately hurt small developers. Perhaps they could introduce some kind of "rate-based" patch charge instead - Patches cost $1,000 + 0.1% retail profit.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

countach (534280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038513)

Yeah, but Apple does it for $100 per year on IOS.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39037973)

And that's why so many patches on your PC suck, many game patches introducing as many bugs as they fix (hello Dragon Age: Origins 1.05). You can trumpet your PC superiority as much as you want, this is one area that makes PC gaming suck horrible ass.

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037831)

Patches are not cheap to deploy, you've got to bother your customers and pay for bandwidth. It makes a whole lot more sense to put the effort into getting the right code onto the disc before it ships.

Epic first post. I was going to suggest that he not think of it as a "Patching Fee", he should instead consider it a "Don't fuck up" fee... It does sound exorbitant, but that's life in the big city.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39037929)

What about for games that are downloadable games in the first place... like, I don't know... EVERY SINGLE GAME ON XBOX LIVE ARCADE, WHICH IF YOU READ THE ARTICLE, YOU WOULD KNOW THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.

I'd like an apology from MS for all the updates I didn't get to Live Arcade games because Microsoft wants to charge the developer for the update, in addition to charging the gamer for the game (MS takes 30% off the top) and charging the gamer for the Live subscription (pure MS profit).

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

cforciea (1926392) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038093)

I know I recently got told that I'm never getting a bunch of updates for my Xbox 360 version of Dungeon Defenders including new content that's been out for months of the PC specifically because of this cost.

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038263)

What about for games that are downloadable games in the first place... like, I don't know... EVERY SINGLE GAME ON XBOX LIVE ARCADE, WHICH IF YOU READ THE ARTICLE, YOU WOULD KNOW THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS TALKING ABOUT.

I'd like an apology from MS for all the updates I didn't get to Live Arcade games because Microsoft wants to charge the developer for the update, in addition to charging the gamer for the game (MS takes 30% off the top) and charging the gamer for the Live subscription (pure MS profit).

Yes the massive data centers, the tens of thousands of servers, and the multitude of very fast internet backhauls were all discovered lying out back of the MS headquarters late one night; ever since then, it's been all profit! sigh. This is just one data point so for all we know, it was one figure quoted to an individual who had no particular bargaining skills and was interested in publishing a patch to a game with an install base of 50 million copies.

You could say that the cost of the update should be baked into the cut that MS takes for distributing, but you can't really say that the expense is, or the cost should ever be, negligible.

Re:Get it right the first time (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038391)

That's kind of like whining that it cost millions to produce 63 minutes of music when the people running things are actively encouraged to waste money like it's going out of style.

Instead if hiring and then firing a producer and spending millions in the process, just don't bother to hire that guy to begin with.

It's like that.

Monopolies suck at seeking economic efficiency.

Re:Get it right the first time (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038535)

If only Microsoft had had the foresight to collect fees from the gamers using their Xbox 360 console. You might think of it as a subscription, even, and you might even give them silly names like Gold or Silver. They could use it to support the infrastructure, that way silly $40,000 fines on developers wouldn't exist. It'd be a stable source of income that could keep data centers up and running.

Ah, if only they had thought to do it. I guess it makes sense why they resort to these sorts of fines instead.

Re:Get it right the first time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038567)

You missed the n.

Re:Get it right the first time (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038109)

Bother customers - Free
Distribute Patch - Free if you TORRENT IT. Many game companies do this. Hell ID was king of posting patches on MegaUpload and FileFront. Again FREE.
Patching is a fact of life for games, but it is not expensive at all to get the patch out to players. MSFT is simply gouging developers hard.

I'm guessing that cost is why Fallout III and New Vegas were bug riddled And Skyrim seems to be a bugfest as well.

Re:Get it right the first time (2)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038349)

No, those games are riddled with bugs because they were made by PC developers that have the mentality you do about patching. Console developers were punished for years with no option to patch a game once it hit shelves so they put more time and effort getting it write the first time.

Re:Get it right the first time (3, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038377)

I'm guessing that cost is why Fallout III and New Vegas were bug riddled And Skyrim seems to be a bugfest as well.

You probably haven't played many Bethesda games then. Bethesda in general release incredibly buggy titles. 90% of the bugs fixed in the PC versions of Fallout:NV, Fallout 3, Oblivion, Morrowind, and earlier Bethesda titles have only been patched because people in the mod community got so fucking fed up with Bethesda's incompetent patch division that they did the patching themselves and released it to the community at large.

I'm all for pointing out that Microsoft gouges developers on the cost to issue patches over Xbox Live, but blaming Microsoft for Bethesda's shitty coding is just being blatantly ignorant of history.

Re:Get it right the first time (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037907)

Patches are not cheap to deploy, you've got to bother your customers and pay for bandwidth. It makes a whole lot more sense to put the effort into getting the right code onto the disc before it ships.

Having worked on porting the Unreal and UT Series to consoles, I know just how much testing takes place, and it really is done to a very high level. But having said that, once a product is in the wild, well, anything is possible especially with the way that folks generally try to do the "silly" things. In most games, achievement systems even reward many of those things that players years ago would have never gone through and done.

I agree with "Get it right" for console games, but I also agree that if a problem is found that can be fixed, it shouldn't cost that much to send out a few files.

Double Fine? (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037769)

Does this guy pay all his parking tickets twice?

Re:Double Fine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39037825)

DA DUM TIS!

Re:Double Fine? (3, Informative)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037837)

No, but you're not far off [doublefine.com] . Go to their FAQ [doublefine.com] and scroll down to Where does the name “Double Fine” come from? - apparently Tim thought that the "double fine zone" sign would make great free advertising.

Re:Double Fine? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037853)

Fine as in nice, not fine as in fee. They're double-nice. Or maybe you're being funny. Hah?

Re:Double Fine? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037969)

Actually, the name came from a speeding sign on the Golden Gate Bridge... he was pretty close :)

down side of locked in stores and what's up censor (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037839)

down side of locked in stores and what's up with censorship?

Why? (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037843)

Is this inclusive of a fee for bandwidth costs? What is the reason for the fee to be so large?

Microsoft is pushing cloud computing now right.. why not charge based on how many users download patches?

Re:Why? (5, Informative)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037891)

Its because Microsoft has to take time to certify every patch put out on Live, just like they certify every game software put out for the 360. That said, Microsoft is a business, and is trying to make money from their licencing agreements. Consoles cost tons and tons of money to design, and then you actually sell them ON A LOSS. You have to make up all those millions purely through licences with developers, one way or another.

That said, they're shooting themselves in the foot making it hard for people to develop for their platform. Indie developers need access. And the whole expensive and drawn out certification process means that PC gamers get patches for games weeks or even MONTHS before console gamers see them, even if they're for the same game. Its not that they do PC first, they do both simultaneously (or console first) but PC goes out as soon as PC is ready.

If they embraced the 360 as more of a general purpose computer that can do gaming well for cheap, then they could skip the certification process and be more like PC. But right now they're shooting for a perfect, controlled console environment.

Re:Why? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037991)

no it is more like Microsoft treating the Xbox like IBM does with Mainframes. Or sun used to do with Sparcs.

For every step you have 12 managers who need to sign off of it.

Or you can do it like apple, or google and just let it go through. If it breaks it is the developers fault.

Re:Why? (0, Offtopic)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037993)

And yet people complain about it when apple asks you to pay $99 to allow you to have an unlimited number of applications certified >.

Re:Why? (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038209)

wait a sec... people COMPLAIN when Apple charges you $99 to tell you what the CONTENT of your app can and cannot be. If all they were doing is charging for a stability/vulnerability/security vetting that would be reasonable. Instead you pay $99 for that and for some guy to make arbitrary decisions on whether your app is either good enough, cool enough or "tasteful" enough according to rules they don't see fit to explain clearly and change without warning at any time.

Re:Why? (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038343)

arbitrary decisions on whether your app is either good enough, cool enough or "tasteful" enough

At time I wish they were doing this, but evidenced by some of the bad, lame, untasteful apps on the appstore, they are not.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038137)

That said, they're shooting themselves in the foot making it hard for people to develop for their platform. Indie developers need access.

That's exactly what Xbox Live Indie Games [wikipedia.org] is for. Now this has its own associated problems, but it's not as expensive to develop for due to a less stringent review process.

Re:Why? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038189)

Yeah, I was thinking about that. If you develop with Microsoft XNA the fees are all much less. But you also get special restrictions. *shrug*

No ports to XBLIG (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038315)

If you develop with Microsoft XNA the fees are all much less. But you also get special restrictions. *shrug*

One of them being that you can't have characters speaking a constructed language. Another being that you can't port a game from another platform; you have to write it from scratch in C#. I've been told that the best-practice workaround for the latter is to develop single-player games solely for other platforms and multiplayer games solely for Xbox 360.

Re:Why? (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038155)

Thanks for the microsoft PR spew. Problem is it does not hold up to light. Both nintendo and PS3 do not rob game companies blind like MSFT does for patching.

In fact, Microsoft gets a buttload of money from "gold memberships" to enable online play that all the other platforms give out for free. Microsoft is raking in money pretty darn hard, dont even try to give us the company PR sob story.

Re:Why? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038179)

Did you read the first paragraph and stop? It was hardly an MS PR spew, I hate MS and I spent the rest of my post explaining why they were WRONG after setting the stage. Excuuuuuuse me, (princess) for trying to shed some perspective.

games also needs mods / user maps and PC rocks (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038273)

games also needs mods / user maps and the PC rocks at that!

Re:Why? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037917)

It has nothing to do with bandwidth, $40,000 buys you a lot of bandwidth. And your solution doesn't work at all. Charge based on downloads? So, if lots of people download it... it ends up costing just as much. So this is only good for people who patch games that nobody plays anymore, which is... nobody. I guess the idea is that smaller games will be downloaded less than larger games? That kinda works, but its roundabout.

They just need to have more licencing options available for indie developers. Have it such that patching fees are tiered based on the size of the game and sales.

Re:Why? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038091)

I disagree with your blanket statement that $40k buys a lot of bandwidth. Having worked int he telecom industry I can tell you that yes... that would be the fee per month for 1 very large circuit. But patching is an entirely different thing. I used to work for ATT and every time SOE had a patch for one of their games, their circuits would hit their "burstable" cap that day... sure they'd get the bandwidth they needed but each patch cost them well in excess of $40k and this was back when they just had EQ1. I'm sure this games patch size is much smaller than what SOEs were, but even so, having 30k users download a 2mb patch all on the same day is not friendly to your bandwidth bill. If they spread it out over a month or 2 that'd be different, but that's not what happens in reality.

Re:Why? (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038199)

Do you have any idea how many users EQ1 had? Definitely factors of 10 or 100 larger than indie game audiences at least.

That said, fair enough.

Re:Why? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038123)

Funds from Every patch goes to buy more chairs for Steve Ballmer.

That's the point (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037849)

Microsoft has said that they don't want their reputation as a retailer ruined by games requiring numerous patches that not all users can get. They say they consider it a fine on premature releases. It's also to "encourage" dlc to be charged for through their store system, so they can get a cut. If you release the content through a patch then use some sort of exterior store to unlock it, MS doesn't get a piece of the action. Part of the idea is good: companies pay for the "deliver first, make it work later" attitude that has been a little to prevalent. Part of it is money grubbing. I'm pretty neutral on the concept.

Re:That's the point (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037887)

They say they consider it a fine on premature releases.

Careful, lest you give hookers any ideas...

Re:That's the point (3, Insightful)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038011)

I was just talking with my boss about microsoft support and found out that for our exchange problems, a tech support call is $250. If they tell you where to find a setting, $250. If they spend 2 weeks and have multiple techs on a call, $250. I came to a realization that it wasn't so much about the fact that MS wanted to nickle and dime for tech support as much as they want to impose a penalty for not RTFM. This sounds like it's sort of in the same spirit.

Re:That's the point (0, Flamebait)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038193)

They also charge $250.00 to give you the URL for the beta patch that fixes a bug in their Piece of Crap called Exchange. I have a couple of those patches that NEVER LEFT BETA and the problem still exists in exchange 2003, 2007 and 2010 when you have Exchange servers using a Tiered storage model for a massive email system.

MSFT support is a double edge sword. they cut you whenever possible.

Re:That's the point (2)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038545)

I don't know about now, but the way MS support used to work is that you were charged for filing a report, but if the report was a bug and a new/not publicly available patch was required your fee was refunded or you got a "support event" that you could use instead of being charged. It was meant as a way of giving people a financial incentive to actually RTFDocumentation, and/or to seek help through one of their free alternatives, like MSDN, MS newsgroups, support fora and the like.

Re:That's the point (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038013)

Indie devs don't have the luxury of being able to afford thorough QA. More often than not the team consists of an art guy and a programmer who set some money aside to work on their project full-time for a few months. They'll do their best to find and fix bugs, but holding them to the same standards as AAA multi-million projects is entirely stupid.

There's a reason the indie scene is thriving on PC.

Re:That's the point (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038207)

That's why there's a channel for indie devs to submit their projects that go through a peer review process instead of the standard certification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xbox_Live_Indie_Games [wikipedia.org]

C# only (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038421)

So how does one translate an existing game's code into C# so that one can release through XBLIG? Sure, I can accept that programmers would have to write the view layer (graphics, sound, input) from scratch for each platform. But I thought one of the benefits of a model-view separation [wikipedia.org] was that different platforms with different view needs could share the model layer (physics, collision, AI) code. The requirement that all games be written in C# breaks this. (Yes, C#; there's no Emit for dynamic languages or P/Invoke for C++.)

Re:That's the point (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038329)

I wonder when it became an issue to patch games? I remember seeing arcade games change as updates were released for them in the arcade. They couldn't push out patches to N64 and PSX games, but they still did different versions of them. They'd produce a batch. Update the game to fix issues. Then the next batch would have a slightly different version.

It's how games have tended to work for a while. I guess it's probably online play (which I would guess tends to require matching versions to work well) and the fact that people see the download happen vs going to the arcade and finding a game had been updated to use version 1.1 rom chips instead of 1.0.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences (1)

EXTomar (78739) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038423)

Quality control is fine but then why take weeks and cost so much to get a rejection due to bugs or low quality? When a game crashes I don't believe many blame Microsoft but instead point fingers at the ISV (example: Bethesda). Why do this? To strictly control and squeeze all the money they can from the supply chain where quality seems to not be secondary.

Instead this seems like "The Law of Unintended Consequences". In an effort to control the system Microsoft has put in place a barrier to entry, they've excluded an entire class of high quality software. Small games and games that thrive on frequent updates don't fit well into XBox Live which has been lamented by many but seems to be just as well since others can make software work on other platforms and pocket a lot more of the profits.

If only... (4, Funny)

Megaweapon (25185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037883)

Microsoft would pay small rebates for every patch for Windows they released...

Re:If only... (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038455)

I care a bit more about unpatched OS exploits than unpatched game exploits.

Quality Control (5, Informative)

adisakp (705706) | more than 2 years ago | (#39037911)

I work in the video game industry but this opinion is only my own. I personally don't think the costs are unreasonable.

Microsoft has a pretty stringent testing requirement for patches. It's not as simple as slapping up a new binary to download. It costs them money to test patches against technical requirements. There is bandwidth involved for downloading patches as well. The developers have to pay for the bandwidth and testing costs. Charging for patches also discourages sloppy software with lots of patching after the fact. Not all XBOX 360's even have hard drives so patches have to be relatively minor and fit on memory cards if necessary.

Re:Quality Control (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038133)

Microsoft has a pretty stringent testing requirement for patches. It's not as simple as slapping up a new binary to download.

Clearly, you're only referring to patches provided by companies outside of Microsoft.

PC: the fourth console (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038463)

I can think of one way to work around Microsoft's perceived technical advantage on its own console. It involves building your own brand of small-form-factor PC and marketing it as if it were the fourth console. I wonder why Valve hasn't already done this to promote its Steam store.

Re:Quality Control (-1, Troll)

ettusyphax (1155197) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038191)

Yeah, so it costs Microsoft the equivalent of 1 year's pay for the average American worker to do some "testing" (?) which I'm sure is VERY thorough (>/sarcasm> it's probably not) then push these patches - which are usually quite small to begin with - to consoles where the HW requirements are KNOWN? If an Xbox can't fit the patch then it likely cannot fit the game. How hard is it to do a client-side space check and say "oops you don't have enough room." You know, like iOS and Android? And, oh no! I'm so sad that Microsoft will have to spend exactly $0.0001 to push a 5Mb patch over their massive pipes. There is simply no excuse for $40,000 patches. No argument in favor holds up to scrutiny. It's intentionally ripping off small devs - why would Microsoft want to help out their competition?

Re:Quality Control (1)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038529)

I dunno, not saying I'm for or against the $40k fee, but the bandwidth is definitely not negligible... if you consider how many people own an Xbox 360, and then consider what percentage of them will need to patch the game, all those $0.0001 (which doesn't seem like an accurate number, even though you put "exactly") 5Mb files start to add up.

Also, like many others have said, this encourages developers to spend the time getting the game right in the first place instead of rushing to market. Software development is very difficult, but patching live systems is a terrifyingly dangerous task; pushing patches and running them through QA sandboxes is easy, but pushing a patch to a live, production machine (like my Xbox 360) had better fucking not happen without rigorous testing from every company involved (MS is gonna have different interests to in testing than Mr. Developer is).

I guess many of us believe that a small dev SHOULD be "ripped off" (or penalized) for releasing shoddy software, and that this policy is actually logically sound. My *only* question is whether Microsoft is qualified to judge what shoddy software is.

Re:Quality Control (1)

HapSlappy_2222 (1089149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038555)

Hmm. Guess I did end up saying I was for the fee. Go figure.

Re:Quality Control (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038225)

So you are doing what has already been done by the company releasing the patch then charging them for it? I can understand bandwidth costs but 40,000 is outrageous.

I worked for Odyssey software back in the day... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39037975)

We didn't need API's for physics. We were kids then. There was a coder then that was a genius in his day. It's been a while, It was the early 90s. Back when
writing code for a nintendo meant just compiling code and downloading to a cartridge that plugged into a conventional nintendo. We coded for amiga too.
ahh... and the original port of Mad Dog McCree. I tell you if had to pay $40k to code for a target platform, we just wouldn't do it. We would write a killer app for another platform that will help propel our games platform popularity. I think what happened is game coders are tied to the API, and no longer write hardcore code. Because if Microsoft was screwing me over I'd write code for an alternate platform. I'd write code that was so damn good it would actually encourage gamers to buy the platform my game is written for. Now Microsoft is locking the xbox so you can't sell your old game to gamestop and buy something else. well I hope this kills the the xbox.

I think it's time to develop a killer open gaming platform. The technology is here to do it. Imagine a world of no more DRM.
I

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038071)

I think it's time to develop a killer open gaming platform.

Attempts to develop an open console or handheld have been tried many times. But no one has ever succeeded at it. Good luck.

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038135)

That's great.

1. Develop bad ass gaming hardware
2. Market it, so everybody buys it.
3. Profit.

No ???? in that equations. Unless you consider both 1 and 2 the ????.

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (3, Informative)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038221)

Oh, it costs a great deal more than 40K to licence a mainstream xbox 360 game. That was the cost of EACH PATCH.

The thing is, yes, gaming used to be cheaper. Uh... so? It used to be you could make a video game with 2 programmers and 4 artists, Doom and Mortal Kombat both had barely more than that. But these days? 50+ developers for some projects? And you're targeting a gaming console that is sold at a loss? You have to understand the business model involved. Consoles are consoles, not PCs. (as much as I might wish otherwise).

Big screens (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038507)

Consoles are consoles, not PCs. (as much as I might wish otherwise).

Then why do only consoles tend to have large (over 24") monitors connected to them? I'd drop consoles in an instant if developers started making PC games that could use several game controllers, but for various reasons, it appears there aren't enough people willing to connect a PC to a TV big enough to fit two to four people around it. Nor are the kind of people who used to crowd around a 19" bedroom TV willing to crowd around a 21" PC monitor for some even odder reason.

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (1)

Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038231)

This is really just a bunch of rambling, you've got no cohesive point. Because of modern physics APIs... games cost more... so you're stuck on one platform... because of DRM?

Yes, DRM is bad... and... some other things you said are points too... but none of it makes sense together.

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (1)

InsaneLampshade (890845) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038253)

I think it's time to develop a killer open gaming platform.

...you mean like a PC running linux? Ok, sorted, now we'll just wait for the games to roll in...................

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (1)

Soporific (595477) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038443)

Isn't the PC an open gaming platform?

~S

Re:I worked for Odyssey software back in the day.. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038521)

Yes, the PC is far more open than a console. But though HDTVs have PC inputs, next to nobody uses them outside the Slashdot-reading geek crowd. So PC games end up optimized for the desk instead of the sofa.

CDNs cost money too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038009)

I worked on a MMO at one point. Close to release we pushed out the game to our CDN solution. Every time we needed to push a patch it was $25,000 to get them to spread it out over their servers. This $40,000 figure is not far off the mark for the real cost Microsoft would incur to farm out a patch for a service that millions visit every day.

Well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038049)

Maybe it's better to release the game without any bugs? There was a time that you couldn't patch console games. And while those games had bugs, they were very rare. Any significantly buggy release would be obliterated in the magazine reviews.

Now people expect and accept them. By the time I got around to downloading Skyrim, it had (I think) 3 patches released. And it's a wonder why I won't pay money for this shit? There are still bugs I have to play around daily. One of them required me to download a bunch of audio files from some unofficial source so that a dialog scene would work and I could continue in the game (some dude held up in the theive's guild wouldn't open the door until he completed his dialog).

It's possible to release a game without bugs. The kids programming them these days googling for code samples and hammering them into their program can't seem to manage. The good game programmers have all retired.

Re:Well (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038335)

This post is a joke, right? There were numerous buggy games released 10 and 20 years ago. This notion that buggy software is something new is pure, unadulterated bullshit. Back in the DOS says it was not uncommon for games to crash the OS frequently due to bugs. For example, games like Duke3d, Doom, Quake, etc has numerous bugs that were squashed when their source code was released. There are plenty of shit programmers today (see java weenies and ruby tards as prime examples) but there were plenty of programmers of old who should never have been writing code.

Re:Well (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038449)

+5 Right on.

Since programs were first run on a computer there have been bugs, they continue to this day in most games be they some random video glitch or full blown crashes to desktop (pc gamer here, one that suffers Dead Island crashes atm). Bugs are everywhere.

The very first time we hear the word "patch"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038139)

in relation to a PS3 or XBoc 360 game, we're taking the console back to the store. Filled with our shit.

Seriously, how did it become even remotely acceptable for a console game to need patches in the first place? It used to be that you'd need to do a recall to fix a broken game. If anything, $40000 isn't enough.

Re:The very first time we hear the word "patch"... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038405)

I blame the dolts that aren't able to adequately tell if their pc can run a game based on the boxes listed minimum sys reqs.

Console patches have led to relaxed standards (2)

LordZardoz (155141) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038175)

In the PS2 / Gamecube era, patching a console game just did not happen much. It was the XBox that introduced the notion by having a built in ethernet port, the Xbox Live service, and the built in hard drive. On the plus side this has led to certain egregious problems being fixed.

On the downside, it has become a crutch. Getting through Lotcheck used to be more difficult. It is still an unholy pain in the ass, but the big publishers can afford to drop a patch, and the revenue gained by being able to hit a launch date mandated by a marketing campaign will make up for it. If the company is big enough (EA, Ubisoft), and the title has the potential to move the needle for hardware sales, a great deal of completely terrible bugs can be forgiven if a launch day patch is forthcoming.

Smaller developers need to anticipate that they wont be able to patch the game at launch simply due to the financial constraints though.

END COMMUNICATION

Cry me a river (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038187)

It is sooo profitable to develop for consoles, much more profitable than on a normal pc! so go on nothing to see here ....

hook up you computer to your tv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038227)

hook up you computer to your tv and play the game with a xbox controller, problem solved.

player 2 must use a separate copy of the game (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038557)

hook up you computer to your tv and play the game with a xbox controller

I own a pair of Xbox 360 controllers. A lot of PC games won't recognize both of them. Why? Greed: they want families to buy two copies [cracked.com] .

Seriously? (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39038363)

This makes sense, since requiring just one patch could massively cut into the profits for a company.

This makes sense for smaller houses but a title that rakes in more than a million in sales on the first day of launch this wouldn't be that much of an issue. If your studio is making niche games then yeah.

Well that explains a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038371)

Dear FSM!@! So that explains Valves comments on why TF2 on Xbox dose not get all the updates and stuff pc gets..

40k is NOT much for in a console game budget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038383)

$40k to certify and deploy a patch is really not that much in terms of a game budget. Most third party tools and licenses cost around this much and the average development budget is over $10million these days (marketing budgets are often much, much more!).

The cost of becoming a licensed developer (not an indie developer, but full fledged developer) plus a few development and test kits is very expensive so Microsoft knows that these developers have deep pockets. As mentioned in previous comments, this fee is partially to cover their own costs but mostly to prevent developers from abusing the system and pushing out patch after patch.

This fee is also not set in stone and is negotiable depending on what publisher you are and what sort of game you're making.

I've got an idea... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39038439)

How about publishing your game on the pc platform eh ?
No fee for publishing, no fee for patches, you can make download content free or otherwise for your customer base to enjoy etc....
Instead you go in bed with the devil, what did you expect would happen ? You got fucked plain and simple, so don't come crying afterwards like how Microsoft is so heartless etc...

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