One of the most controversial policies for today's generation of consoles is the recurring patching fees that developers and publishers incur when they release their games on the Xbox 360 and PS3. According to new information gathered from various sources, it's being rumored that Microsoft may have dropped the patching fees for the Xbox 360 earlier this year.
Eurogamer put together a convincing article detailing the info they've received and how it applies to today's console market climate. Basically, they've received word from multiple developers who claim that they no longer have to adhere to the $40,000 or so patching fees associated with the Xbox 360. This policy changed, according to Eurogamer, has affected both retail and digital games distribution.
Some of you may remember that Tim Schafer from Double Fine Studios did what the company didn't want him to do and dropped the monetary figure on the public, letting everyone know that fees could extend to $40,000 per patch. This means that after the initial free title update that Microsoft offers developers, every subsequent patch, DLC add-on or content release will cost the developer (or the publisher) a pretty penny.
Eurogamer also makes it known that there is still a silver lining to this whole thing that benefits Microsoft in fringe cases, writing...
There are caveats, we understand. If a developer is deemed to be making an excessive number of re-submissions due to an update failing certification, for example, Microsoft reserves the right to issue a charge. But the changes should make critics of Microsoft's closed platform happier - and align the Xbox ecosystem more closely with the likes of Steam.
How about make the Xbox ecosystem more aligned to the likes of the PlayStation 4? By and far the Xbox ecosystem will never be able to compete with Steam, especially now that they have Steampipe out there, but Microsoft is still leagues behind in their policies just compared to what Sony is doing with the PlayStation 4.
Heck, you can actually play free-to-play games on the PS4 without having to pay a separate subscription fee, an absent feature from the Xbox policy machine that dictates free-to-play games must be behind the Xbox Live Gold paywall.
The very ridiculous scenario of having free-to-play games locked behind Xbox Live Gold caused Wargaming.net's CEO Victor Kislyi to speak out against the policy, noting that their beloved game is not truly, 100% free-to-play on the Xbox 360 since it still requires a paid subscription, as reported by The Escapist and GamesIndustry.biz.
Hopefully Microsoft will carry over this private policy change into the Xbox One, because as it stands the PlayStation 4 is still the weapon of choice for game developers, especially developers without publishers or smaller indie studios. Heck, the PS4 having more than 140 games scheduled to release in the first year alone is enough to let you know that the system obviously has a rapport with development studios than the Xbox One.
With a bit more poking and prodding maybe Microsoft will amend the policies and make the Xbox One a happy place for everybody? Pfft. Right.
According to Phil Fish, he's experimenting to see if the policy is retroactive to get Fez patched for the XBLA. So we'll see how far the generous arm of Microsoft extends if an older XBLA title can be patched for free.