Microsoft’s $40,000 Patching Policy Leaves Silent Hill HD Owning Xbox Customers With Inferior Version
The Playstation 3 patch to last year’s much maligned HD port of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 has arrived, promising irate owners a very much belated fix to myriad bugs, framerate drops, audio syncing issues, and a completely borked fog density. While it would be a brave gamer indeed who takes this as confirmation that the PS3 version of the Silent Hill HD Collection is fit for purchase, it is nevertheless progress (after a fashion) for the hapless fools who already own the game, and is sure to be well received among that unhappy community – but not so the Xbox 360 owners of the game.
The Silent Hill HD Collection is the latest piece of highly flawed software to fall victim to Microsoft’s patch pricing policy. The policy dictates that developers must pay Microsoft the hefty sum of $40,000 for the release of all patches after the first, which can be hard to justify for lower-tier software. This has seen the abrupt cessation of support for games like Brutal Legend and more recently Fez, the later of which is particularly noteworthy as the game featured a savefile deleting bug which was unable to be addressed. Thus, in the same breath that Konami triumphantly announced a laundry list of game fixes for Playstation owners, they also poured cold water over Xbox 360 owners on account of a patch for them being economically prohibitive.
“Plans for an Xbox 360 title update have been cancelled due to technical issues and resources. Understanding the issues some users are experiencing, Konami issued a title update for Silent Hill HD Collection (PS3), which fixed frame rate issues as well as audio-synching and other reported issues. Konami apologises to any players who are continuing to experience these issues on the Xbox 360 sku. Silent Hill HD Collection is available at retail stores nationwide.”
While it is difficult to feel much in the way of sympathy toward Konami, a publisher who elected to release a manifestly unfinished game; one must nevertheless conclude that Microsoft is primarily to blame for Xbox users missing out on a patch that may have fixed the game that they purchased. The approval process for game patching costs money to be sure, but then so do Xbox Live subscriptions, which are notionally collected for the ongoing support of digital services for XBL users (in reality: just profit). Of course Microsoft is free to run their Xbox Live ‘service’ as they see fit, but when their greed is the only thing standing between their users receiving a much needed patch, then that is just very sad for everyone.
Dragon Quest X Tanks at Retail
Dragon Quest games are/were big business in Japan, selling to their domestic audience in quantities best reserved for AAA worldwide figures. The release of a new Dragon Quest title was the one thing (short of a Nuclear disaster) that was guaranteed to bring the nation of Japan to a grinding halt as millions of mad, yellow bastards queued for sometimes days at a time in order to be among the first to slake their thirst for ultra grindy generic JRPGS. But alas, sadly it would seem for Square Enix that Dragon Quest fans want a console style JRPG (whether it be on home console or handheld), and certainly do not want a faux MMO, which requires a subscription and was made for a dead system which is famously incapable of utilising the internet.
Online (and wireless) multiplayer gameplay was accepted well enough for Dragon Quest IX, yet that was largely because it was not required, and fit well within the traditional structure of the Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest X on the other hand constitutes a very rude shake-up to the Dragon Quest formula, and the sales figures would appear to reflect the disquiet of the fandom. Initial figures for the four days that Dragon Quest X was on sale sit at 420,311 units sold, a figure which looks impressive until contrasted against the fact that both Dragon Quest VIII and Dragon Quest IX sold over two million copies in their first two days on sale.
People have been quick to point out that Square Enix will make up the revenue shortfall from sales lost with their subscription fee, but that all depends on the game’s longevity. It is currently unknown whether the game’s current userbase are serious MMO gamers who intend to stick around for the long haul (which would not seem to be much of a natural fit for the property), or whether they simply picked up the title to see what the latest Dragon Quest was all about before moving on, much like the multitude of gamers who bought The Old Republic for its storyline and promptly dumped it once its main arc was finished. What is clear however, is the fact that sales currently sit well bellow The Old Republic‘s current userbase, which was itself the cause of much alarm for Bioware’s evil EA overlords, prompting them to make the title free to play. Square Enix will definitely be looking for Dragon Quest X to shift some more copies this week if it is to sustain the viability of its paid service. It is well likely that this will still be a very profitable venture for them, but one cannot escape the notion that this is just the latest release in a long line of renowned JRPG franchises who’s currency Square Enix has permanently debased.
Late Breaking News: Konami Updates Their Stance on the Silent Hill HD Collection Patch
Silent Hill HD Collection owning Xbox users may not be getting a patch for their game, but they will be eligible to receive a free game from Konami, or at least they will be if they live in the Americas. This offer appears to be very generous on the face of it, yet is becomes absolutely laughable when one realises that owners of the game will have had to have kept the game receipt in order to be a beneficiary of Konami’s largesse – one does not fancy that their software inventory will be overly taxed.
The offer as stated on the official Silent Hill Facebook page reads: “Please send your receipts to Konami Customer Service for verification and further details on how to exchange your product. This offer is only valid for Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360 version) games purchased on or before 08.08.2012. All requests must be made in writing and submitted on or before 10.07.2012. and is subject to availability. Any inquiries received after this date will not fall under this exchange program. This offer valid for purchases made in North and South America”.
Essentially this is Konami betting that the amount of people who avail themselves of this service will cost less in terms of software givaways than $40,000. While this is no doubt a cynical exercise in reputation maintenance, it is nevertheless bound to prove a nice silverlining for the several people diligent enough to keep their receipts for all this time. For all those who have not, well, let them eat Microsoft!