There will be no fix for a bug that corrupts save files in Phil Fish's XBLA platformer Fez because Microsoft insisted on "a ton of money" to test a new patch.
Developer Polytron released a Fez patch in June, but Microsoft pulled it after reports of corrupted save files from a small number of players. In a post on the Polytron blog, Fish admits that no fix is forthcoming.
"We're not going to patch the patch," he writes. "Why not? Because Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game. And because, as it turns out, the save file delete bug only happens to less than one per cent of players.
"It's a shitty numbers game for sure, but as a small independent, paying so much money for patches makes no sense at all."
Fish doesn't specify the sums involved - though Double Fine head Tim Schafer claimed earlier this year that console patches cost $40,000 - but whatever the precise figure, he's fully aware that, had he released the game on PC, he'd have been able to fix any issues with Fez without charge.
"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 continues. "And if there was an issue with the patch, we could have fixed that right away too!
"Microsoft gave us a choice: either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which we all know could introduce new issues, for which we'd need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online.
"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."
To that end, the pulled patch, which fixes a host of bugs including framerate issues, is now back online. It can't have been an easy call for Fish to make, knowing it would attract attention and prompt allegations of ignoring player needs for the sake of his bank balance. But we think it's the right decision.
Microsoft's patch system made sense when Xbox 360 launched in 2005; we didn't know any better. In 2012 - as games continue to become services, where the first release merely lays the foundations for a constant flow of content updates - it seems positively archaic and sorely out of touch. Microsoft has the best online ecosystem of any of the platform holders; for users, the patching process is as painless as it gets. For developers - especially smaller indies - it's a different story.
There's an argument, too, that Microsoft's certification process - which justifies the patch fee, and is the reason updates typically take four to six weeks to make it from the developer to the end user - should have picked up the save file bug in the first place. Developers can, however, save money by doing the testing themselves, though they face a further fee should a title update fail certification.
Either way, it's clearly left a sour taste in Fish's mouth: the man who once insisted that Fez was a console game, designed to be played on a sofa with a pad, is now counting down the days until he can release it on other platforms - specifically, one assumes, Steam. "But hey!" Fish tweeted last night. "Only a few months left [on] our XBLA exclusivity."