Multiple developers are apparently now reporting that Microsoft is no longer charging them to patch their Xbox 360 games.
In what appears to be a stealth-policy change, developers are saying that Microsoft have relaxed this particular rule of their publishing policy but with the catch that the company reserves the right to impose charges if they think developers are taking the piss (i.e. submitting a shitload of patches within a certain time frame).
In the past, Microsoft has defended the policy with the reasoning that the cost of submission for patches places the onus on developers to get their games right first time.
While its a noble ideal, the $50,000 charge which comes with trying to get a patch certified is not and has caused a number of indies headaches.
One such example was Polytron, the developer of Fez who had a bug in the 360 build of the game that affected a very small percentage of the audience, yet, because of the abhorrent charge, it remains unfixed to this day.
Whichever way you slice it then, Microsoft not charging devs to patch their games is a good thing and it shows that they’re starting to take down their Xbox Live walled garden brick by brick.
Now, they just need to take the next natural step and take a hammer-drill to the rest of it and allow indies to self-publish.