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Microsoft Taking Heat For Five-Figure Xbox 360 'Patch Fee'

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Microsoft 323

wasimkadak sends this quote from Ars: "Developer Phil Fish knows there's a problem preventing some people from enjoying his Xbox 360 puzzle platformer Fez as intended. But he's not going to fix it, thanks to what he says is an exorbitant fee of 'tens of thousands of dollars' that Microsoft would charge to re-certify the game after a needed patch. The issue started on June 22, when Fish released a patch intended to fix some outstanding gameplay and performance issues with Fez. That patch gave rise to new problems for some players, though, by causing their save files to appear as corrupted, in effect erasing their progress through the game. Microsoft pulled the initial patch for the game mere hours after it first went up, to prevent the bug it contained from spreading too far." Another article covering the story suggests this situation is simply a mis-match between an indie-dev's expectations and the realities of a curated gaming platform.

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323 comments

For real? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713721)

So the guy blames Microsoft after being the one pushing out a faulty patch to begin with? LOLWUT?

Re:For real? (5, Insightful)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#40713927)

It sounds more like he's blaming them for charging tens of thousands of dollars to certify and post the corrected patch.

The second article makes a good point though (and some stupid ones). He's floating on over a million dollars in sales. The crazy-high cost of certification is extortion, but it's also fair to say he has a certain obligation to the folks who bought his game. Meanwhile, the nasty little outbursts aren't going to win him a ton of fans.

Re:For real? (5, Funny)

dittbub (2425592) | about 2 years ago | (#40714301)

there is something to be said of 'deterrence'. get your games straight or pay out the ass! i kind of like it.

Re:For real? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714651)

How does it deter him if he found out about it after the fact?

Re:For real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714733)

The only thing it "deters" is the release of needed, timely patches. This has been an ongoing problem for the current generation of consoles -- games go months with glaring bugs, sometimes never to be patched. See: Star Trek Legacies, Overlord 2, etc. It makes sense that these developers are loathe to push out patches that will only /cost/ them money, especially if they've already crossed their peak sales point.

As a consumer, that should piss you right the hell off.

Re:For real? (1)

egamma (572162) | about 2 years ago | (#40714785)

The only thing it "deters" is the release of needed, timely patches.

You mean like his first patch, the one causing saved game files to appear corrupted?

Re:For real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714765)

The effect of it seems to be to leave the games crooked.

It was Microsofts fault (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714683)

What do you think a curated platform is, what do you think certification means? Quite simply MS failed to test it complied with their standards, and as a result a bug got through.

It's not a penalty system, or a deterrent, its supposedly the cost of Microsoft's tests in certifying it.

He's right to say its not worth re-patching and he won't pay a second time for Microsofts failure. That's a decision up to him, if its not worth it, its not worth it. Why should he pay if he doesn't think its worth it? Charity to MS?

Re:For real? (5, Interesting)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about 2 years ago | (#40714779)

It sounds more like he's blaming them for charging tens of thousands of dollars to certify and post the corrected patch.

The second article makes a good point though (and some stupid ones). He's floating on over a million dollars in sales. The crazy-high cost of certification is extortion, but it's also fair to say he has a certain obligation to the folks who bought his game. Meanwhile, the nasty little outbursts aren't going to win him a ton of fans.

Frankly, I'm all for a very high fee for patching. As high as possible.

The internet made it so that games are released broken, with the mentality that they'll just patch later. The way I see it, you should have the mentality that no patch will ever be released, and test the hell out of it. Patches should be a very rare thing. By increasing the cost of the patch, you cause people like this guy to not release the patch. That hurts the users, but it also hurts him, because as people find out his game is broken, his sales will decrease. So maybe in the future, he'll keep that in mind and do proper testing.

We've made it cheap to patch games anytime. We need to make it expensive to make the cost involved in thorough testing cheaper than patching later.

Re:For real? (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#40714485)

So the guy blames Microsoft after being the one pushing out a faulty patch to begin with? LOLWUT?

Something does not add up; a patch was produced for the game with apparently no fanfare regarding the cost for "recertification," and then when it was revealed that a bug still existed (albeit in an apparently hard-to-spot corner case) only then did he go ballistic and cry foul? He must have known about this "extortionate" fee beforehand, so why only complain after a bug he put in the software made him pay it twice?

Re:For real? (3, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#40714545)

Because as with all good pushers the first patch is free. Subsequent patches cost $40K to recertify. At least that's what the voices in my heard said they overhead someone else tell another person.

Re:For real? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714791)

So the guy blames Microsoft after being the one pushing out a faulty patch to begin with? LOLWUT?

Something does not add up; a patch was produced for the game with apparently no fanfare regarding the cost for "recertification," and then when it was revealed that a bug still existed (albeit in an apparently hard-to-spot corner case) only then did he go ballistic and cry foul? He must have known about this "extortionate" fee beforehand, so why only complain after a bug he put in the software made him pay it twice?

This brings up an interesting question: What does the certification process involve? What does it mean when something is certified by Microsoft?

If I pay Microsoft a 5 figure amount to certify my software, do they then guarantee that the software is certified to work with all XBOXes out there?
Have they tested it to see that it is bug free?

What do I actually pay for?

Team Fortress 2 (4, Interesting)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about 2 years ago | (#40713723)

This is part of the reason TF2 is largely unpatched on the Xbox... Valve was going to wait to make one big content update, but then they exceeded the Xbox's memory limitations. Whoops.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40713875)

Yeah, and this really sucks because I much prefer to play my games on a console than a PC if, for nothing else, they "just work" and will "just work" for 7 years or more and will play all the latest games without any extra hardware. I'm hoping that eventually Valve will release at least a small update to fix some of the bugs of the 360 version and add in new weapons and a map or two.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714015)

Prepare to be trolled by the 'hardcore' PC shooter players because you *gasp* like someing they don't.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714155)

He stated a prefference for one over the other. I don't think the /. crowd will argue since they're the ones who often say "Choice is good". He made a choice, HIS choice. Now, if he had said that PC gaming is a poor experience, then yeah, people will jump all over him.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714259)

You must be new here.
Welcome to /.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (3, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#40714417)

Consoles long ago gave up 'it just works'. Im CONSTANTLY downloading new patches, making sure my Live account is up to date, etc. Maintaining a gaming HTPC is no more challenging then just stuffing money into your Xbox, esp. if you treat it jsut like a console (no web browsing, no overclocking, no weird add-ons, consistent hardware) Gaming PCs are VERY stable if you treat them right and set them up properly. Its cool you like consoles, but quite a few of its 'strengths' have been diminished in recent years.Hell, the new Xbox interface is a clusterfuck, chock full of advertising i didnt ask for and was never explained that it would be there someday.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#40714521)

You're exaggerating greatly. I routinely play on my 360 and the last patch I downloaded was months ago.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (1)

redbeardcanada (1052028) | about 2 years ago | (#40714717)

I agree completely.

I don't play my Xbox too often, and when I do it seems that rather than being able to sit down and blow off some steam in a game, I spend half an hour updating everything. This is killing 'casual gaming' for me. I know this happens on the PC too, but seems way less frequent for games like SC2.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (5, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#40714501)

Haven't looked at PCs in awhile have you? I'm playing on an AMD 6 core and an HD4850 I got for $50 and I have tons of bling and have no problem with the new games like Saints Row 3 or Deus Ex HR. Very few games are doing the old Far Cry I "Our game is useful for benchmarking!" bit because it simply limits your audience too much. I have no doubt my boys and I will be playing on our two hexas and the youngest with his quad come 2020 when the OS goes EOL with nothing but a $50-$100 GPU update in about another year that will take all of 10 minutes and is simple enough my teen boys will change out their own. Oh and as a bonus you can put your old cards on Craigslist and get some of your money back which makes the cards even cheaper.

This is why I'm glad me and the boys have switched almost exclusively to PC gaming, too much BS, too much price gouging, and talking to friends frankly the patches are just as bad and large for the PC only as in TFA you simply may not get them and instead get stuck with a buggy game for your hard earned $$. Thanks to the Steam sale by the time its over on the 22nd me and the boys will have enough games to last us until the big Xmas sale and that's with crazy cheap prices, games automatically patched for free, free MP with matchmaking and chat, its just a nicer experience all around. hell nearly all the games support controllers if that's what you prefer and nearly all the modern cards have HDMI out so you can plug that PC into your widescreen no problem.

For those that prefer consoles you might want to watch this video by Jim Sterling [escapistmagazine.com] where he points out that all the advantages consoles use to have frankly are rapidly disappearing, with consoles having the same bad attributes as PCs such as long loads and large patches, and the good things are being matched or surpassed by the PC.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (4, Funny)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#40713983)

but then they exceeded the Xbox's memory limitations.

Went over 640k huh? Gotta watch out for that.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714223)

MS charges for patches? Should check the bank account

Re:Team Fortress 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714323)

With RAM that low, I'm wondering if the PS3 has any at all! It must be running on CPU cache alone.

(FYI for those who don't know, 360 has 512 MB of ram, PS3 has 256 MB)

Re:Team Fortress 2 (-1, Flamebait)

morari (1080535) | about 2 years ago | (#40714297)

Console kiddies don't know how to play first-person shooters anyway. No big loss on either side there.

Re:Team Fortress 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714713)

I'm sure that you (and the two other pc fps gamers left in the world) will get a good chuckle out of that in the privacy of your parents basements.

patched (5, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | about 2 years ago | (#40713731)

Just send '0xB16B00B5' to the console,

Re:patched (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714231)

...or vagina

This is why app store lockin sucks! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713737)

You should have the right to hack your box and the dev should be able to post the code on there own web site with a HOW to for the hackers to install the fix.

Desks, mice, and keyboards (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40713797)

And then presumably give up the ability to use your box with a television. If the establishment is to be believed, hackable boxes are for desks, mice, and keyboards, not living rooms and gamepads.

Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#40713745)

If he doesn't like the terms, he can scrap his game or disclose the problems with every sale.

I dislike MSFT, but they owe him nothing.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 2 years ago | (#40713889)

I dislike MSFT, but they owe him nothing.

That's true. Well, beyond what they charged him for the dev kit, and the fee to publish on XBLA, plus their part of the profits from the game sold, plus the tens of thousands he paid them to certify the first patch. So, you know, the hundreds of thousands (at a guess, could be millions or a few thousand) of dollars they have made off him. Beyond that, nothing at all!

OTOH, he did fuck up, and he could publish the patch even now if he really wanted to (but it only affects a few people who already finished the game before the patch, so it wouldn't be worth it financially from his point of view). Frankly, neither MSFT nor Fish comes up looking very good from this whole ordeal.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (2)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#40714197)

they charged him for the dev kit,

Ok, they owe him a dev kit.

and the fee to publish on XBLA, plus their part of the profits from the game sold,

Which is one and the same, so they owe him the publishing of his game.

plus the tens of thousands he paid them to certify the first patch

And they owe him a verification of the first patch.

Are you saying they have not delivered on any of these?

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714451)

'And they owe him a verification of the first patch.'

If the patch was verified and oked by microsoft and then a problem arose from it, i don't think it was tested and verified properly, now was it?

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#40714737)

I doubt the verification is advertised as a Microsoft finding your bugs for you.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714201)

actually, the first patch is free, and if you think about it, for most developers, $40k is chump change

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714659)

for most developers, $40k is chump change

This is why consoles will never be taking seriously for gaming. You just defined "most developers" as being
less than 1% of the world's game programmers.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#40714613)

I dislike MSFT, but they owe him nothing.

That's true. Well, beyond what they charged him for the dev kit, and the fee to publish on XBLA, plus their part of the profits from the game sold, plus the tens of thousands he paid them to certify the first patch. So, you know, the hundreds of thousands (at a guess, could be millions or a few thousand) of dollars they have made off him. Beyond that, nothing at all!

OTOH, he did fuck up, and he could publish the patch even now if he really wanted to (but it only affects a few people who already finished the game before the patch, so it wouldn't be worth it financially from his point of view). Frankly, neither MSFT nor Fish comes up looking very good from this whole ordeal.

Maintaining the XBLA platform, curating many many games, watching for bugs (which is why this one even got caught in the first place) and all that is not cheap. The unfortunate thing is that it looks like the developer basically says that since the bug is only likely to exhibit itself on systems where the game has been played a lot (i.e. customers that already paid) that he isn't going to incur the cost of releasing the patch. It sure sounds like "thanks for the money, now here's your bug". If the bug stopped users from buying it in the first place, do you think he would so quickly scoff at the cost?

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714623)

The first patch was free, the fees kick in after that.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714637)

First patch is free. He fucked up his first patch. MSFT charges for subsequent patches.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713903)

Yes, this argument would work if the complaint was that he was being charged at all versus the actual complaint, which is that $X0,000 is "exorbitant".

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40713913)

I think the point is their policy is encouraging developers to leave buggy code out in the wild. I fully understand the MS position, but they need to come up with another billing model for recertification.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#40714159)

I think the point is their policy is encouraging developers to leave buggy code out in the wild. I fully understand the MS position, but they need to come up with another billing model for recertification.

I'd think it would be the other way around - the high price to put out patches means you'll test much better before releasing a patch, so you won't have to do it multiple times.

Which is what this guy didn't - his initial patch (which he paid for) broke things, and now he balks at paying the costs for putting out a second patch to fix his first broken patch.

I don't normally have sympathy for Microsoft, but in this case, I think the rage should be against the developer who refuses to pay the price to fix something HE broke - a price he already knew about beforehand, and which wouldn't have been an issue if he hadn't broken things with his patch.
Who loses on his stinginess (or bad testing procedures) are the "very few" users who are left in the cold. I hope he at least will refund them the cost of the game, but based on what attitude he displays, I doubt it.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40714069)

This is just another forseeable consequence of the absence of software freedom on the platform. Every author and distributor of non-free software should be scolded every time their policies cause problems. Both Microsoft and Fish are in the wrong.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40714189)

Every author and distributor of non-free software should be scolded every time their policies cause problems.

How would you propose funding the development of a game that is not massively multiplayer and is distributed under a free software license? See previous comments by turbidostato [slashdot.org] and alexo [slashdot.org] . And how would you recommend getting people to buy boxes designed to play such free games and hook them up to their TVs?

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

morari (1080535) | about 2 years ago | (#40714329)

He should have just released it on the PC instead. It has a much larger built-in audience, and doesn't cost anything in licensing/patching fees. It really serves him right for siding with some outdated set-top box.

Re:Why should MSFT work free because he fucked up? (1)

jeti (105266) | about 2 years ago | (#40714497)

Most of the fee is supposedly for quality control. If MS let the bug slip through in the original release or the first patch, they share part of the blame.

Yep... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40713755)

Yep, this is the biggest pitfall with console gaming that the internet was supposed to fix. For example, one only needs to look at Team Fortress 2 for Xbox/PS3 vs the PC counterpart.

Back in the early days of the internet me and my friends used to dream of what the internet would bring, new levels, new modes, online scoreboards, new content, online multiplayer, cheaper localization, the end of region restrictions...

Only to never see them fully realized.

HTPC is the answer (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40713841)

The fix for console lockdown would be to market PCs as replacements for consoles, including a ten-foot-friendly application launcher and a web browser with a ten-foot interface (like Opera's Internet Channel for Wii). Yet no major PC maker wants to go this route for some reason.

Re:HTPC is the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713997)

Valve could probably do that with a bit of redesign for Steam.

And then just release a set-top box with PC hardware and Steam installed on top of cut down Windows or, considering their recent activity, custom Linux distro.

Re:HTPC is the answer (3, Interesting)

tibman (623933) | about 2 years ago | (#40714519)

It's probably what they are actually doing.

Re:HTPC is the answer (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#40714217)

People buy consoles because even a 7 year old 360 will play, for example, Max Payne 3 at better quality and better frame rates than a 7 year old PC will lay the PC version. If you think the issue has to do with the UI, you've missed the forest for the trees.

Re:Yep... (4, Insightful)

tangeu (2605501) | about 2 years ago | (#40713865)

But what we did see was a constant stream of games that were completely broken and unplayable for the first days/weeks after release because, "We can just patch it later." Which is exactly what this policy is trying to prevent.

Re:Yep... (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40713921)

And we still had those games back before the internet. Heck, it was even worse back then because your only source of reviews were magazines and word of mouth (or if you were really really lucky you could play a few minutes of the game in the stores).

Re:Yep... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713941)

You've got that backward, this is the big pitfall of internet gaming that consoles were never supposed to suffer from. Lazy devs who don't bother to test their fixes. The price does seem a bit odd, but I am fully in favor of an escalating fee for each bugfix, and an extra jump up that scale every time your bugfix needs to be recalled because it's worse than the old bugs.

Re:Yep... (2)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#40714341)

How would the internet fix this? The developer pushed out a bad patch which caused users to lose data. Another patch was then put out, and we don't know if it was a fix or simply more bad code. The internet does not magically make bad code good. It does allow bad products to be patched on the fly, but that does not really help lusers who think they are getting a functioning application..

Re:Yep... (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#40714479)

I used to dream that one day we would get Sports games that would update the rosters every year for 5 years. It never occurred to me that in the age of easy updating, they would continue to spit out whole games every year and charge full price for it.

Too bad (2)

gewalker (57809) | about 2 years ago | (#40713759)

Too bad the rules don't apply to product managers at Microsoft. If a defect in their product is critical enough to require a patch, the fee for recertification comes out of their budget / bonus / salary, etc. This would be incentive.

Re:Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713881)

It would also make them totally risk adverse.

So... no change there!

Re:Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713989)

It's an incentive to *not* fix bugs. While it would be nice to think that it's an incentive to do sufficient testing, that only happens on planet Ideal.

Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713789)

a high patch fee means more devs would think twice before releasing shit without testing it..

To be a little more fair. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713809)

The $40k fee that MS charges for patches is ridiculous. Considering they get a chunk of every game sold, the certification process should be gratis.

HOWEVER, it's also important to note that while the excessive fee is what is limiting Fez from being updated (it comes out to something like 6-8% of the entire revenue the game is likely to ever create after years of development -- PER PATCH), it is important to remember that Microsoft is NOT debugging or testing your game. They are NOT your QA department. They are merely there and receiving your $40k to test and verify that *YOU* adhered to *THEIR* very long list of requirements. Such as "do you press A or START to begin the game" and "does an interactive menu appear within the first 30 seconds of launching the game" and "can the game be completed". THAT is the certification they are doing. They are NOT being paid that $40k to debug and troubleshoot the game *ITSELF*.

Of course, if he'd released this on Steam or even entirely independently on his own site, he could patch to his heart's content.

At any rate, Phil Fish is a controversial character, but I dig the guy and hope this all settles out in the end. Hopefully he moves on to greener pastures with his next game (or, even, with this one as soon as the exclusivity breaks).

Re:To be a little more fair. (2)

Shados (741919) | about 2 years ago | (#40714715)

As many have stated, the point of the patch fee isn't to make money (though it doesn't hurt on that front). Its to make sure the consoles don't end up like PCs where games are often nowhere close to being in a "releasable state" at launch. Its a "tax/penalty" for releasing shitty code and to force devs to test their stuff.

Next time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713817)

Good, maybe next time he won't release a broken game.

Apple vs. Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713833)

If you need to update your App for iOS, you simply update it and Apple pushes it out. Developers even have some opportunity to ask for a expedited review if it's urgent. If your game is free, this costs you nothing, and if it isn't, it's already covered by Apple's 30% of the price.

Arcade vs. Indie Games (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40713959)

If you need to update your App for iOS, you simply update it and Apple pushes it out.

I believe Microsoft has the same policy for Xbox Live Indie Games that Apple has for the iOS App Store. But because Xbox Live Indie Games are not rated for material objectionable to parents, they're available only in the United States and a few other countries that lack compulsory ratings. I'm guessing that's why Fez is on the much more expensive Xbox Live Arcade route to market, not Xbox Live Indie Games.

"mis-conception" (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#40713837)

It's not a misconception. It's a perfectly accurate conception: If you're not going to throw tens of thousands of dollars at us, go away. Most indie devs do not have tens of thousands of dollars to throw at anything. If they did, they wouldn't be indie devs anymore. Therefore, curated platforms like the Xbox are indie-gamer averse.

The walled garden is designed specifically to make sure Microsoft makes money on every transaction, no matter how insignificant. That's why UEFI is going to kill the PC... if the platform is locked, you're screwed. But at least Microsoft will be making money... so it's all good. As long as corporations control everything, we shouldn't worry.

Re:"mis-conception" (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40713915)

You know, I kept hearing that every version of MS's "anti-piracy" measures for Vista, and Win7 were uncrackable too. Seemed to me that every version was cracked like a egg being dropped from a 12 story building, some were elegant cracks, some were brute forced like being smashed with a hammer. UEFI? I expect the same thing, I do. It may take time, but it will come. Persistence is the key.

Re:"mis-conception" (2)

asdf7890 (1518587) | about 2 years ago | (#40714557)

The key difference is that UEFI is enforced by hardware, not just software. While I doubt it will be uncrackable it is going to be significantly harder and the hacks against it may require physical intervention (not just software changes) which will stop may users replicating the crack.

Re:"mis-conception" (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40713923)

But it doesn't have to be this way. The developer said on Steam or Apple App store, it wouldn't be an issue and those are walled gardens. This problem is with MS and how they have approached it. I'm not sure if Sony or Nintendo developers also have the same problems.

Re:"mis-conception" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713981)

That's why UEFI is going to kill the PC... if the platform is locked, you're screwed.

Sigh seems you've not really been reading the articles (a given) or even the comments on the UEFI stories. UEFI won't screw anyone. Its disable-able, and cheap to license. All the Linux distros will, and users rolling their own will just disable it or add their own keys. The latter two features are mandatory for Windows 8 certified UEFI.

Windows RT is the exact opposite (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40714115)

users rolling their own will just disable it or add their own keys. The latter two features are mandatory for Windows 8 certified UEFI.

Only on x86. On ARM, it's the exact opposite: lack of the latter two features is mandatory.

Re:"mis-conception" (2)

mridoni (228377) | about 2 years ago | (#40714029)

The problem here is that, according to TFA, the developer pocketed about 1 million dollars in sales. If he even gets to keep 30% of that, after paying fees and commissions to Microsoft and taxes, it's about 300,000 US$. I understand that paying (again) a hefty certification fee sucks, but certainly we're not talking about a teenager working out of his basement.

Re:"mis-conception" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714047)

Punishing patching is a good strategy for games that aren't normally supposed to be updated. The last thing Microsoft wants are bug-riddled messes that are released and patched later.

Maybe Microsoft could change the rules a bit. One free patch per year. It should be at the end of the year (starting from release date) to prevent day one patches of newly released games.

Re:"mis-conception" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714689)

... Because bug-riddled messes that are released and NOT patched later are so much better.

You'll only hear "We'd better move the deadline forward to fix that bug" in the ideal world, in real world it'll be "We'd better hope there won't be many users to trigger that bug".

Tough? (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#40713951)

None of us in this business like having to have games go through layers of certification testing, but it costs money to do, and if you want your game on XBL, WiiWare or PSN you deal with that. All 3 have both design and technical requirements, which are intended largely to benefit the consumer and their brand image (so you don't stare at blank loadscreens for 5 minutes, you can't have a game kill your console that sort of thing).

It is by no means a perfect system, but it overall positions a game on a console as certain quality of experience, if you can't deliver that, make your game for mobile or PC. And yes, it sucks to have to pay for bandwidth for patches and so on, but that's the point - do it properly and you don't have to pay as often, and MS/Sony/Nintendo are going to test your game to make sure it doesn't break the consoles etc. Or, you can be like endless space (which btw is a good game, albeit somewhat buggy in earlier versions) and have 10 patches on steam and not have to spend a hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so.

They might have a legitimate argument with microsoft as to why they didn't catch this problem in testing the first time round - but that depends on the specifics of the bug and XBLA testing.

It's up to developers and publishers to build relationships with consumers, it's not up to console makers to foot the bill for that. Of course you could build relationships with consumers the way EA does, but that's another topic.

Some genres (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40714041)

if you can't deliver that, make your game for mobile or PC.

Except some genres are commonly thought not to work on mobile or PC. How would one sell, say, a fighting game for mobile or PC? On mobile, the player can't feel where his hand is relative to the on-screen buttons because the screen is completely flat, and on PC, players are unlikely to already own gamepads because there's no culture of gathering around a desk to play together.

Another Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40713977)

Look at this from a business perspective. The cost to fix the patch is "tens of thousands" - Not very specific, but lets assume $20k.

We know the game sold to > 100k customers and the bug impacts 1k customers.

So... Microsoft is asking them to pay ~$20 per impacted customer, which is probably more than each customer paid for the game in the first place! Now, also consider that the bug impacts save games, but does not break the game permanently. The player likely needs to start the game over - inconvenient to be sure - but the game will play significantly better afterward.

Now, pretend you're the CEO of Polytron. What do you do?

Re:Another Perspective (0)

pokerdan (1696708) | about 2 years ago | (#40714035)

Whoops, did not mean to post as Anonymous Coward.

Re:Another Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714533)

Now, pretend you're the CEO of Polytron. What do you do?

You go to your QA/Testing department and start kicking asses. Then you do all what is needed for the company not to loose the face in front of consumer. Yes, at the cost of loosing money. Moreover, he chose to put himself in this situation by accepting MS terms.

This is a good thing (5, Informative)

derrickh (157646) | about 2 years ago | (#40714119)

I'm glad Microsoft is doing this. It's a deterrent to developers putting up untested patches. This could have been avoided if instead of rushing out the first patch, it was put through the ringer. And if thats too much to ask because you're an 'indie dev' then maybe you arent ready to be on XBLA. MS actually has outlets for smaller devs that can't handle the costs/restrictions of XBLA or boxed games, XBLIG. And XBLIG doesnt have an update tax.

It may sound harsh, but the bottom line is, if this is an issue, you probably shouldn't be on XBLA yet.

D

Mismatch of expectations for curation? (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#40714129)

Another article covering the story suggests this situation is simply a mis-match between an indie-dev's expectations and the realities of a curated gaming platform.

I don't see how anyone can say this with a straight face in light of the fact that the largest curated platform right now is the iOS App Store, which is several orders of magnitude larger than XBLA, and the only fee it charges its developers is the $99 annual fee to be a developer. I can understand Microsoft wanting to make some more money and to perhaps provide a higher level of quality for their curation over what Apple does, but that doesn't justify charging tens of thousands of dollars. They need to rethink their model entirely.

Re:Mismatch of expectations for curation? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714573)

The iOS App Store is not curated. Apple pretty much allows anything on its platform as long as the developer pays $99 a year and the app doesn't conflict with any products Apple makes. Developers are constantly fighting off horrible cheap emulations of their games as well as games which flat out copy assets byte for byte from other games.

Lulz (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714143)

I love the fact slashdot is a site dedicated to making MSFT look at bad as possible at every oportunity. Very much like how Fox News for the Democrats; right up to the point where you realise they only do it because it's the only message their audience want to hear, regardless of context or even fact. Sad but true.

the 20 year perspective (3, Interesting)

drkoemans (666135) | about 2 years ago | (#40714163)

I'm a long time gamer that has come full circle. The xbox was the first console I've ever owned and was purchased largely because of the mess that was PC gaming in the late 90s early 2000s: game that took an hour to install and didn't work out of the box, CS map packs that had to be downloaded from the server you were connected to, games that only ran on 3DFX voodoo cards, the list could go on forever. I had less time to game as I was now an adult and I just wanted things to work.

The trade was well worth it. Now a decade later it seems all those same issues have crept into consoles. I can't play CoD with friends unless I've bought the map packs, games are coming out not fully operational, I have to PAY to play online. Taken individually I can get over most but in the meantime the price of a PC (desktop and laptop) has fallen BELOW what I paid for my 360 (and PS3, I have one of those too) at launch. Steam has made digital distribution and patching a reality and with Steam sales, has brought the cost of the software WAY down. Laptops make my gaming platform portable and self contained.

I'm not saying I won't buy the next generation of consoles but I'm going to think long and hard about doing so. I am definitely ready for the resurgence of PC gaming, not that it ever went away, but a lot of us migrated and are ready to come back. I admire the console's attempt to integrate the indie community into fold but it was a slippery slope and the repercussions of that decision are unfolding. I don't blame microsoft or the dev in this scenario, I'm just not positive that it was ever a good marriage to begin with.

Game Boy (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#40714319)

I had less time to game as I was now an adult and I just wanted things to work.

Now that you're an adult, do you have kids? Or do you watch other adults' kids? If so, do you game with them?

Laptops make my gaming platform portable and self contained.

Consoles have had this since 1989 when Nintendo introduced the Game Boy. Microsoft, on the other hand, isn't sold on handheld gaming [quartertothree.com] .

Re:Game Boy (1)

drkoemans (666135) | about 2 years ago | (#40714513)

Yes, I have a child and playing together is completely awesome and something the console (kinect and ipad in particular) is very well suited for. PC gaming with mouse and keyboard is beyond him still but using the xbox controller on the PC is a great transition.

Regarding the laptop, it is irrelevant whether or not MS makes a portable console since few consoles have ever allowed you to play the same console game on a portable (the turbographx 16 comes to mind though). With Steam cloud saves and a laptop I can play the same game at home or on the road without buying the software twice. It is a huge advantage in my case. While getting away from the original point, I think I'm with MS on this in that portable gaming has been completely ceded to the iOS and Android at this point. MS could do it if they packed enough power to play standard pc games on a portable game centric device. Sounds like a loss leader to me though.

There's always a price to pay for lack of testing (3, Informative)

cplusplus (782679) | about 2 years ago | (#40714185)

...and in this case, it's "tens of thousands of dollars".

Then do it right the first time (2)

swan5566 (1771176) | about 2 years ago | (#40714227)

In this case I have to side with Microsoft. Verifying that stuff doesn't do bad things on their console is both necessary and costs money. Furthermore, this implicitly imposes a due diligence standard on software devs and what they release. I hate the practice of turning customers into beta testers. I don't feel bad for Fez at all.

He knew this was an issue before signing (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714245)

Phil Fish signed a contract with Microsoft to make Fez a 360 exclusive title, in exchange for some kickbacks (like better placement and free marketing). Fez could have also been on the PS3 and PC, however they chose to release the game only for the 360 because they wanted the MS freebies instead of having a multi-platform title. He shouldn't be surprised now that he needs to pay to cover his own bad QA with the title.

Crying about it after the fact just makes him look bad. They entered into an agreement they should have better understood before signing on the dotted line. This is Polytron's problem now, and some gamers are getting screwed.

Short sighted (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about 2 years ago | (#40714255)

You'd think it would occur to someone at MS that it would make sense to encourage and support any developer--even the small ones--to develop for their platform. More content means more sales, more sales mean more money. It irks me so much when I see companies ignore long term benefits for short term cash.

Hell, if I ran the platform, I'd make it completely free to develop for (or at least charge a nominal, small fee to keep out anyone who isn't serious). All I'd then do is make sure the quality is good enough, and make sure to take a cut of the sales. Kinda like Apple is doing with their ridiculously successful App Store.

Third party support and happy developers are the most important thing for a gaming platform. Nothing else matters as much. Nothing. Look at the N64, for example. Developers snubbed it, and the wildly inferior PSX dominated that generation. N64 was kept afloat purely from first and second party games (I don't believe any other company besides Nintendo could have survived with just that).

lemme get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714257)

This jackfuck is whining because he has to pay 10k to patch HIS BROKEN GAME when he made $1 before taxes from the game?

FUCK YOU ASSHOLE. FIX YOUR BROKEN GAME. No one broke it for you, you released a broken fucking game. Man up and fix it. Spend your cash.

The real problem (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#40714277)

To me, the real problem is the timing of the fees. At "late stage" in a product life-cycle, the vendor fees really should lighten up, since neither the developer nor the vendor is likely looking at big future sales numbers. This is making a big negative impact on the existing customer base, and disincentivising patches and fixes.

Better to take a bigger slice out of initial sales to cover these kind of things and run patches through "at cost" or less.

So what... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714365)

Microsoft knows damned well that any issue that exists in a game on their platform is going to look bad on their end. This is why platform makers have certification steps. Certification is expensive and tedious. There is also a queue of people waiting for certification.

The reason MS charges 5 figures is so that people don't abuse the model. Publishers have been shown in the past to ship games early despite having bugs in order to get sales or sync up with marketing demands. The idea of shipping first, patching later is demeaning to the customer especially when those patches take MUCH longer due to the development shrinking to move onto a new project or new DLC. By making this an expensive process, they force developers to take it seriously.

Also, in terms of development costs, $50 grand is not much. That's often the cost of a single license to some third party library. For indies, their development budgets are much smaller and that's why XBLIG has a completely different peer review patch system. In this case, the maker of Fez didn't go through the indie pipeline, he went through the standard developer pipeline and he's now bitching because he's getting standard development charges. He can afford it, given the success of the game.

Patch mongers (0)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 2 years ago | (#40714367)

I think Microsoft should triple the fees. I'm sick of vendors who think they don't have to take QA seriously since they can push out a patch at moments notice. Fuck 'em.

You shoulda known (1)

Stumbles (602007) | about 2 years ago | (#40714457)

So what's the big deal, the developer has been bit in the ass even though people such as Mr. Stallman have warned them about these devices and their proprietary nature. Pay your thousands and shut up cry baby.

Microsoft? Pshh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714493)

Everyone knows Apple has the best game platform anyway.

gn44 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40714509)

go find something

Sloppy Work (1, Troll)

KalvinB (205500) | about 2 years ago | (#40714569)

MS charges a huge fee for two reasons: they have to do work to issue your patch and they don't want sloppy unfinished products. Back in the days of cartridges patches weren't even an option.

Progress (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about 2 years ago | (#40714711)

Leave it to the game console market, to make it so that the Internet is too expensive a medium, for distributing software updates.

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