After Polytron and Microsoft yanked the patch that was set to fix a number of issues to indie hit Fez but brought on a much bigger issue of corrupting some players’ save files, Polytron announced that they will not be fixing the patch. They are instead re-releasing it to the public despite the save file issues it can cause. On the Polytron blog, they explained that it would cost “tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game,” a large sum of money for a small indie developer to invest in for an issue that is said to affect “less than a percent of players.”
In the blog, Phil Fish issued an apology to those who will be affected and sheds light on having a game exclusive to Microsoft’s console:
To the less-than-1% who are getting screwed, we sincerely apologize. We know this hurts you the most, because you’re the ones who put the most times into the game. And this breaks our hearts. We hope you don’t think back on your time spent in FEZ as a total waste.
Microsoft gave us a choice: either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which for all we know could introduce new issues, for which we’d need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online. They looked into it, and the issue happens so rarely that they still consider the patch to be “good enough”.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but in the end, paying such a large sum of money to jump through so many hoops just doesn’t make any sense. We already owe Microsoft a LOT of money for the privilege of being on their platform. People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM.
On a side note, the exclusivity of the title will be ending in a few months according to Polytron’s Twitter account, possibly hinting that a Steam or PSN release of Fez may not be too far down the pipeline.
Analysis: What a shitty situation. Based on a speech Phil Fish gave at the Gamelab conference in Barcelona, a patch can cost about $40,000, so the price isn’t so much a surprise to me. But the fact that Polytron pays Microsoft to be exclusively on their console more than puzzles me. I had always thought it would be the other way around, and I would think I’m not alone in this, so it makes no sense to me why you would pay a company to limit yourself to one platform. Something certainly doesn’t sound right here.
Video games, although a hobby for the most of us, are still a business at the end of the day, and generally, a business is always a numbers game. It’s unfortunate that the patch couldn’t be patched itself, but there is still hope that Fez may come to Steam where Fish himself stated, “Had Fez been released on Steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us.” If Fez does come to Steam, there will be no doubt which one will be the superior version.
Nevertheless, I don’t see this move winning Phil Fish any more friends in the industry, no matter how few customers it is said to affect.