Microsoft has reportedly rescinded fees tied to patches and updates of Xbox 360 games. These fees were the target of a fair amount of ire, particularly from indie developers publishing to Xbox Live Arcade, in the past.
Not content to end the stream of surprise policy changes with what is now widely known as the “Xbox One-Eighty,” Microsoft will no longer be charging fees for “reasonable” levels of patching and updates for Xbox games, according to multiple developers. Microsoft itself has made no official announcement regarding this change, but the policy shift apparently went into effect a while ago and is not as sudden as it seems.
Historically, Microsoft has charged several thousand dollars to developers wishing to update their titles, which was particularly troublesome to indie devs who self-published or were financially pressed from initially bringing their games to release. These fees were one of many issues cited with disdain by Team Meat, the duo of Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes who gave us Super Meat Boy and whose less than spectacular time with Microsoft was documented in part by Indie Game: The Movie. The most recent and most notorious outcry against the fees came from Polytron‘s Phil Fish, who was unable to patch a critical, save-corrupting bug in his long-awaited hit Fez due to an inability to afford five-digit figure Microsoft was requesting.
The abandonment of these fees may be a move on Microsoft’s part to keep pace with Nintendo and Sony, both of which having proven vastly more friendly to indie development in the wake of Xbox Live Arcade’s decline, the burying of the Xbox Live Indies section in the dark corners of the Xbox Live Dashboard, and the end of the XNA Game Studio program. This change only applies to the Xbox 360, and no alteration to the need for developers to either find a publisher or publish through Microsoft to the Xbox One’s equivalent to the Arcade has been announced or suggested.