Microsoft no longer charges developers to patch their Xbox 360 games

UPDATE: Microsoft confirms. Fez creator Phil Fish investigating if this is retroactive.

UPDATE #3: Microsoft has provided Eurogamer with a full statement regarding its decision to drop charges for Xbox 360 game patches.

"Microsoft eliminated fees for Title Updates on Xbox 360 Arcade games in April 2013," a spokesperson said, reiterating what Hryb and Whitten announced below. "We're constantly evaluating our policies and implementing feedback.

"While our development policies are confidential, and will remain so, we're pleased to say that this is just one of many ongoing changes and improvements we've made to ensure Xbox is the best place possible for developers and gamers."

UPDATE #2: Microsoft's director of programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb and Xbox corporate vice president Marc Whitten have both confirmed the dropped update charges on Twitter.

Both stated, "Microsoft eliminated fees for Title Updates on Xbox 360 Arcade games in April 2013."

"You forgot to tell people," Phil Fish responded.

UPDATE: Fez developer Phil Fish is looking into whether Microsoft's new policy is retroactive, so he can finally patch Fez for free. Previously, it would have cost the indie developer "tens of thousands of dollars."

"I will get in touch with them and see if their new policy is retro-active," Fish tweeted.

"But honestly, I feel it's kind of a long shot. Something tells me it won't be," he added.

Fish also noted that "You have no idea how much trouble I got into for talking about this. And you never will. So I'm pretty glad there's a happy ending here."

He then continued to rail against Microsoft for not promoting the game or even getting its digital box art ready in time for release.

ORIGINAL STORY: Microsoft no longer charges developers for Xbox 360 title updates, Eurogamer has been told by multiple development sources.

Microsoft made the policy change on the quiet earlier this year after charging developers tens of thousands of dollars to patch their games.

Microsoft has always charged a fee when developers first submit their games to Microsoft's certification process so they can be approved for release, and the company normally grants developers one title update free of charge. This remains the case, but sources have told Eurogamer that subsequent re-certification as a result of a title update is now free. This applies to Xbox Live Arcade games and full retail games.

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.

Microsoft's title update fee was designed to encourage Xbox developers to spend as much time as possible making sure their games were up to scratch before they were released. The change comes over seven years after the Xbox 360 was released.

A number of developers have complained about Microsoft's patching costs over the years. In July 2012 Fez developer Polytron decided to re-issue a patch that corrupted a small minority of player's save files because fixing it would require the very costly process of getting the game re-certified.

At the time Fez developer Phil Fish praised Steam, explaining that the PC platform's model would have alleviated the problem. "Had Fez been released on Steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us," he said. "And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too!"

Fish declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer about this latest development.

All eyes now turn to Xbox One, due out in November, which many developers hope will be a more open system than the Xbox 360.

Microsoft declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer.

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