A change of policy at Microsoft means the platform-holder is no longer charging developers for Xbox 360 title updates, a new report has said.
Eurogamer reports that Microsoft quietly ushered in the change earlier in 2013 and that developers are no longer charged a fee to re-certify their games through Microsoft's submission process. Microsoft still charges a fee to developers when they initially submit Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Arcade games to be published, with the games then tested and sent for approval through Microsoft's certification process.
There are reported to be a few caveats, with Microsoft able to charge developers if it suspects an excessive number of submissions.
Additionally, a source told GameSpot that Microsoft no longer charges developers to have Xbox Live Arcade games re-certified if they fail their initial submission. The move is believed to have been implemented to help smaller developers who lack the resources of bigger publishers, and avoid situations such as when Fez developer Polytron opted to rerelease a patch with a potential save-corrupting bug in 2012.
Microsoft's previous system gave developers one title update for free, before levying fees upon subsequent updates. Double Fine boss Tim Schafer attached a $40,000 figure to the fee in an interview with Hookshot in 2012.
Microsoft's choice to charge for additional title updates was so that developers would focus more on the quality of their software before initial release, GameSpot has been told.
Abolishing some of the fees attached to the Xbox 360 submission process brings Microsoft's publishing model one step closer to PC platform Steam.
Fez developer Phil Fish previously said that the situation with Fez would never have happened with Steam. "Had Fez been released on Steam instead of XBLA," said the developer a year before porting the game on Steam, "[Fez] would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us."