Xbox Live Arcade devs no longer pay for updates, Microsoft confirms

Latest policy reversal is "one of many ongoing changes and improvements"

Microsoft has confirmed it is no longer charging developers for releasing game patches for Xbox Live Arcade titles, paving the way for developers to update their digital titles regularly without penalisation.

Speaking via Twitter, Xbox Live's director of programming, Larry Hryb confirmed the change of policy happened earlier this year. Microsoft has previously declined to comment specifically on the subject.

Conventionally, it's claimed that many XBLA developers were offered one title update free of charge, but subsequent re-certification (in the event of a patch or bug fix) came with a thousand-dollar charge.

Double Fine studio manager Tim Schafer has previously claimed the cost to patch Xbox Live games was $40,000.

Now with the update costs dropped, it means that studios can provide updates and patches to their titles more regularly. But it is not clear if this affects the certification process.

From a developers' perspective, Microsoft's decision aligns Xbox Live with Valve's PC-centric Steam model of rapid and multiple game updates. It is unclear whether free Xbox certification will carry over to the Xbox One.

It should also go some way in eliminating situations like that of Fez developer Polytron, who last year declared it would not patch a game-breaking bug in its XBLA titles due to what it deemed exorbitant costs.

The game featured a critical bug that can corrupt save files - but the Canada studio responsible for the errors claimed that Microsoft is charging too much for fixes to the game.

"Microsoft would charge us tens of thousands of dollars to re-certify the game," read a statement from the studio.

"Had Fez been released on steam instead of XBLA, the game would have been fixed two weeks after release, at no cost to us. And if there was an issue with that patch, we could have fixed that right away too."