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Indie game Fez squares off against Microsoft

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Fez (Credit: Polytron)

The developers of indie game darling Fez have a problem: there's a major bug in their game. But they're not going to fix it — and they say that's Microsoft's fault.

Released in April on Xbox Live, Fez garnered terrific reviews from critics. But as players explored the game, they found a number of issues. Save files were being corrupted and the game was crashing regularly. A fix was issued last month, but it was quickly yanked because it reportedly caused even more problems.

And now the developer says it will simply cost too much to issue another one, due to fees from the Redmond-based company.

As a result, that broken patch is back online.

"We're not going to patch the patch," writes Phil Fish, CEO of Fez developer Polytron. "Why not? Because Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game. … Microsoft gave us a choice: either pay a ton of money to re-certify the game and issue a new patch (which for all we know could introduce new issues, for which we'd need yet another costly patch), or simply put the patch back online. They looked into it, and the issue happens so rarely that they still consider the patch to be 'good enough'."

The new patch, says Fish, only causes problems for one percent of the players, but he's still frustrated. And the outspoken gamemaker, who was featured prominently in the recent film "Indie Game: The Movie," is taking that opportunity to rail against Microsoft.

"Paying such a large sum of money to jump through so many hoops just doesn't make any sense," he said. "We already owe Microsoft a LOT of money for the privilege of being on their platform. People often mistakenly believe that we got paid by Microsoft for being exclusive to their platform. Nothing could be further from the truth. WE pay THEM."

Microsoft, however, tossed the ball right back into Fish's court.

"Polytron and their investor, Trapdoor, made the decision not to work on an additional title update for FEZ," a spokesperson for Microsoft said in a statement. "Microsoft Studios chose to support this decision based on the belief that Polytron/Trapdoor were in the best position to determine what the acceptable quality level is for their game. While we do not disclose the cost of Title Updates, we did offer to work with Trapdoor to make sure that wasn't a blocking issue. We remain huge fans of Fez."

It is, of course, impossible to say whether Polygon will work with Microsoft again. But Fish does make it clear whom he prefers when it comes to digital distribution.

"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 says. "And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too!"

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