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Op Ed

GamesIndustry International - Fez, Fish and The Problem with Patching.
Fez has grossed over a million dollars, and even after Microsoft has taken a lump of that, it would be outright negligent and irresponsible of Fish not to have money left over to cover an unforeseen problem like a reissued patch. Catch-22. If you're able to complain about it, you're also able to pay for it, and your users are quite entitled to excoriate you for using them as hostages in a debate with Microsoft which is of no real relevance to them.

"I don't care how indie you are, or how free and loose your ideas of commerce and creativity may be - once you've taken a million bucks from consumers, professionalism isn't optional" Equally, though, one can have sympathy with Microsoft. The company gives one patch for free, and charges for subsequent patches - not because it's greedy and avaricious (it does lots of other things for those reasons, of course), but because it doesn't want to see XBLA games being released buggy or incomplete and patched repeatedly. The Xbox is a console, and players expect not to be confronted with the kind of endless match of bugs and patches which so often afflict PC games. Microsoft has a duty to its consumers to try to enforce that, and ultimately, Fish bears responsibility for creating a patch with such a serious bug in it.

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16. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 19:33 ASeven
 
Mashiki Amiketo wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 19:27:
I dunno, it seems to me that it might be a better idea to simply say "screw consoles" and release games directly on oh...steam.

But PCs are only useful for spreadsheets.
 
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15. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 19:27 Mashiki Amiketo
 
I dunno, it seems to me that it might be a better idea to simply say "screw consoles" and release games directly on oh...steam.  
--
"For every human problem,
there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
--H.L. Mencken
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14. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 19:25 Beamer
 
Jerykk wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 18:50:
So in addition to the usual 30% cut that MS takes from all XBLA games, they'd take an additional cut for being the publisher, which means that Fish likely only gets 30% profit from each sale. Then you have to consider the costs of development, what with dev kits costing $10,000.

Pretty sure the first part isn't entirely true, and I'm also pretty sure XBLA games don't require dev kits. Could be wrong about both, but I think Fez can be developed the same way an XB Indie game is and no dev kit is needed.

Still sounds dumb that Microsoft charges the same for an XBLA certification as a full AAA certification. Not even getting into whether there's a good reason for certification and for costs, just charging the same seems like a bad idea.
 
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13. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 18:56 spindoctor
 
Jerykk wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 18:50:
Would have made a lot more sense to just release Fez on PC first.

This is the man who said that his game was 'console only, meant to be played on a Saturday morning sitting on your couch' which PC gamers for some reason can't do in the imaginary world he lives in. He also said that 'PCs are meant for spreadsheets' and not games.

As a PC gamer, all I will say is fuck you Phil Fish you arrogant little dipshit.
 
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12. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 18:50 Jerykk
 
Would have made a lot more sense to just release Fez on PC first. If it did well, it would have been that much easier to get it on XBLA and/or PSN. Also, Fish could have found and fixed the vast majority of bugs before starting the ports.

Releasing on XBLA first required that he find a publisher, which MS ended up being. So in addition to the usual 30% cut that MS takes from all XBLA games, they'd take an additional cut for being the publisher, which means that Fish likely only gets 30% profit from each sale. Then you have to consider the costs of development, what with dev kits costing $10,000.

On a side note, it's not surprising that MS let the patch go through even with the bug. Happens all the time. If a bug is rare enough, MS will allow it to be waived, even if it's a critical one. If they didn't allow any bugs to be waived, games would never pass certification.

This comment was edited on Jul 21, 2012, 18:56.
 
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11. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 17:56 killer_roach
 
peteham wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 17:43:
While the re-certification fee seems ludicrous, it's not as if Fish went into this completely blind. All of this stuff would've been in the contract, yet he took the deal for XBLA exclusivity. He was also quite vocal about Fez being a console game, yet suddenly PC and the ease of patching on Steam is preferable after all? Hah.

Yeah. While the cost of a patch is ludicrous, it wasn't like this wasn't well known from other developers in the industry. It's possible he is that naive, but there's more than a little bit of angling for leverage in Fish's approach. You almost wonder if Microsoft just calls his bluff and goes "Fine, release it on Steam, see if we care".
 
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10. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 17:43 peteham
 
While the re-certification fee seems ludicrous, it's not as if Fish went into this completely blind. All of this stuff would've been in the contract, yet he took the deal for XBLA exclusivity. He was also quite vocal about Fez being a console game, yet suddenly PC and the ease of patching on Steam is preferable after all? Hah.  
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9. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 17:28 Silicon Avatar
 
Eh... I dunno. If you only get 1 shot at a patch and you mess it up knowing that it is going to cost you to fix it you'd think that patch would be bullet-proof.

It is not like they have to test against a million different pieces of hardware like you do on PC.

I'm confused as to why the testing process didn't catch the bug in the first place though. Isn't that what they are paid to do? Seems like the error is mutual and he should get to put his patch back up free.
 
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8. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 16:50 007Bistromath
 
This writer is a short-sighted douche. An objective look at what the console business model has done to gaming in general makes the appropriate context for this pretty clear.

It's true: console players expect a simpler experience. Console makers have catered to this desire by making an environment that is artificially and unsustainably error-free. The limitations necessary to provide this have bled into parts of the market where they don't belong, pulling devs away from anything capable of advancing the state of the art.

To prop up this slowly and painfully failing approach, Microsoft has chosen to inflate the cost of business, moving the line between "customer" and "partner" to a higher-than-natural class. The message here is quite simple; if you don't put a certain amount on the bottom line for MS, you could work on something that brings thousands of people to their platform, and still be totally expendable and negligible. It's great business sense, so naturally plenty of people will be willing to defend it with sycophantic non-sequitirs like "they deserve to get paid" and "it's their right."

These, however, are the realities of the boardroom, sold to us by the people who work in it so we will continue to accept their terms, no matter how destructive they become. Our hobby is one of countless resources the boardroom can exploit. That's the game they play, and they can play it equally well with hog futures or lawn furniture. When the market for anything reaches a certain level of maturity, it inevitably succumbs to foreign leadership by people who are specifically in the business of exploitation.

The only way to protect our hobby from these people is to support those who put quality of workmanship over powergaming. That ain't Microsoft.
 
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7. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 16:22 Dev
 
As a side note, many studios run game to game, and end up having to lay off (hopefully temporarily) most employees between major game projects. Basically its like living paycheck to paycheck.

It wouldn't surprise me if fez only took home $500k out of that million because of MS. After the costs of the game and employees, it also wouldn't at all surprise me that they don't have the $40k to patch it again.

That said, they SHOULD have tested the patch better before releasing it, knowing that it was their one and only patch. But if it indeed only screwed up 1% of the time, it might have been a tough bug to find.
 
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6. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 16:07 Dmitri_M
 
Ozmodan wrote on Jul 21, 2012, 15:05:
Oh give me a break, Microsoft is the 800 lb gorilla in this case and it is absurd to charge an indie 40k+ for a patch.

The only bad guy here is Microsoft as the developer made the game exclusive for their box.

The problem here is drawing the line at one patch, when Microsoft needs to be a bit more flexible. If the game was on Steam it would have been No issue at all.

I have no sympathy for any writer that tries to make out Microsoft the good guy in any way shape or form. He is an IDIOT!
Are your thick black rimmed glasses prescription or purely cosmetic?
 
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5. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 15:50 Beelzebud
 
40K to patch a game? That is idiotic. As this illustrates, it doesn't mean games on Xbox will be less buggy, it just means some games get fixed, and some don't.

 
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4. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 15:05 Ozmodan
 
Oh give me a break, Microsoft is the 800 lb gorilla in this case and it is absurd to charge an indie 40k+ for a patch.

The only bad guy here is Microsoft as the developer made the game exclusive for their box.

The problem here is drawing the line at one patch, when Microsoft needs to be a bit more flexible. If the game was on Steam it would have been No issue at all.

I have no sympathy for any writer that tries to make out Microsoft the good guy in any way shape or form. He is an IDIOT!
 
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3. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 14:35 Draugr
 
not because it's greedy and avaricious (it does lots of other things for those reasons, of course), but because it doesn't want to see XBLA games being released buggy or incomplete and patched repeatedly

Can't it be both?

Lets also keep in mind that this applies to everyone, not just XBLA...This doesn't stop the big publishers from farting out games that need patches, the difference is they can afford it, so in reality this is just a punishment for indies/smaller companies, who don't have tens of thousands to roll out patches.

That doesn't make the FEZ guy any less of an idiot or a tool, he knew what he was getting into.
 
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2. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 13:35 Sepharo
 
Console-world problems.  
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1. Re: Op Ed Jul 21, 2012, 13:30 [VG]Reagle
 
wahhhhhh  
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I am much better now.
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