Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox Live Arcade developers are no longer subject to a fee when updating their titles. Corporate VP of Xbox Live Marc Whitten told Polygon that the policy has been in effect since April of this year, potentially saving companies high charges to fix bugs in their downloadable Xbox 360 games. The news was first reported by Eurogamer.
Phil Fish, the outspoken creator of Fez, raised the issue last year when he decided to re-release a patch containing a bug that could corrupt save files. At the time Fish said that while the patch improved the game for "99 percent of users," his company Polytron could not fix the bug because Microsoft would charge "tens of thousands of dollars" for the resubmission.
On Twitter, Fish said that he would attempt to find out if the new policy is retroactive, but expressed doubt at the prospect.
Microsoft has kept quiet on its plans to attract indie games to the upcoming Xbox One; developers won't be able to publish titles to the console themselves, and the company's E3 presentation was dominated by blockbuster titles from major studios. Sony, on the other hand, has taken the opposite approach, giving titles such as Jonathan Blow's The Witness top billing at its announcements and offering liberal conditions for releasing software on the PlayStation 4.
Update: A week after Microsoft made the announcement, it turns out that Phil Fish is one of the new policy's first beneficiaries; Polytron will finally be able to patch Fez. "It's going to take a few months, though," the developer caveated on Twitter. "But we're doing it!"
GOOD NEWS EVERYONE: we're going to patch FEZ on XBLA!— PHIL FISH (@PHIL_FISH) July 4, 2013