According to Double Fine's outspoken frontman Tim Schafer, via Hookshot, it costs no less than $40,000 to patch a game on "modern consoles". You might want to bear that in mind next time you comb a Battlefield 3 update log and complain that your personal niggle hasn't been addressed. Overkill Software's Simon Viklund suggests, however, that change may be in the wind.
Overkill is the outfit behind Payday: The Heist, a generally well-received team-based shooter for PS3 and PC, released in October 2011. According to Viklund, the 30-head Overkill team was caught out by the amount of post-release support the game required, and dismayed by the associated expense on console. "It surprised us how much we wanted to do after we'd finished the game," he told OXM. "On the PC we can do it for free - let's put it up there.
"It costs a lot of money to do that on consoles, and it's not up to us, unfortunately - we're not made of money. So we thought, let's wait until we have enough changes and then we can pay that cost and put the patch out there on PS3." A large patch was ultimately released the following April.
Viklund understands why manufacturers regulate patches this way, but says he's relieved to hear that the policy may not be forever. "That's how first-party designed it, and I've heard stories that for the next generation, they're making it possible to self-publish patches. That's a rumour. And that would be nice.
"At the same time I understand why first-party wants to keep control of everything - they want to play-test, they want to make sure that it doesn't crash. Because that's the whole idea of a console - it's for the casual gamer, it works all the time."
The news should be music to the ears of Team Meat, among others - only today, the latter's Tommy Refenes complained to Eurogamer that console development costs are "insane".
"It costs zero dollars to develop on Steam if you already have a computer," he said. "When you look at PlayStation and Xbox and Nintendo you have to buy thousand dollar dev kits and pay for certification and pay for testing and pay for localisation - you have to do all these things and at the end of the day it's like, 'I could have developed for other platforms and it would've been easier.'"
Thoughts everybody? Which would you prefer - a smaller but better selection of titles, ring-fenced by expensive QA procedures, or an open field?