Posted by: adrianwerner | July 5, 2009

Et tu, Polytrone, contra me?

In case you haven’t already heard  FEZ was announced for XBLA . The problem is that it was announced as only coming to Xbox Live Arcade. Yep, no PC version in sight

Now, to be honest there’s quite a debate going if it ever was actually announced for PC in the first place. However at the very least such impression was made, that’s how the game was demoed and how the game was listed on gaming sites,if my memory is correct at IGF nominees list it also was named as such and most of all a large portion of gamers (myself included) were convinced it was coming to PC. If this was somehow a misunderstanding then the developer did nothing to clear it up.

The XBLA release isn’t surprising on it’s own, Fez always felt like a console game that just happened to be on PC for some reason. I would be shocked if Machinarium or Eschalon Book 2 would do such switch, but Fez? It’s a platformer with cute furry animal as main character, it simply  screams “CONSOLE GAME !!!”.
I guess we all got a little spoiled. For so many years we’ve been playing through all those amazing freeware and indie platformers that we forgot that the main reason why they existed was because there was no way to put them on consoles. Today, with introduction of Xbox Live Arcade, Wiiware, Playstation Network or even Apple’s Appstore this no longer holds true, at least for commercial releases. So we have to get rid of the “indie game = PC game” mentality as much as we hate to do so.

I’m not blaming the developer for switch; unlike many other people (you can read a thread with over 1000 posts full of drama at TIGS if you’re into such stuff.) However I do think the whole thing could have been handled a lot better. Nobody is “entitled” to playing Fez on PC, it’s creators can put it wherever they want but if you do something like this you should comment on PC version, if it’s not coming then say so, do not just announce XBLA release and then run away singing happily. For any sort of comment about this whole situation from the Polytron crew you have to go to mentioned TIGS thread. After  lots of reading through the lines and finally the “no comment” response it seems pretty clear they are under some sort of NDA. The irony is that most likely this means there will be a PC version somewhere in the future, if there wasn’t they would be allowed to say so, the fact they can’t leads me to believe they are just forbidden to confirm the eventual future PC release. Where’s the mentioned irony? Because they’re getting bashed to hell by PCgamers when in reality it’s likely just the result of them intending to make PC version eventually.

What I don’t like however is that they didn’t even post the mentioned “no comment” on their own site. It just seems like pretty lousy attitude towards people who follow your game, plenty of which were spreading hype through other sites or buying Fez t-shirts to help boost developer’s finances .Not everyone browses regularly through TIGS (yeah I know they should, but we do not live in a perfect world 😀 ) and even among those who do few have patience to read through couple hundred posts just to get any idea what’s going on with the game they are interested in.
Was it really that hard to post simple “Sorry guys, no comment on anything but XBLA version” on developer’s own site? A lot of drama, forum flaming and confusion could have been avoided this way. But I guess the internet would be a little less exciting then:D

All this Fez drama made me think about all the similiar cases that happened before. Couple years ago we PC gamers had indie all for ourselves, but times change and now online distribution services on consoles compete with PC for developer’s attention. So let’s start from something mild:

WORLD OF GOO

World of Goo on PC suffered the least from console deal. It simply had to lay on the shelf couple months until Wii version is finished, but we did get it on the same day as Wii users. Our version lacked multiplayer, but had better graphics and most of all you could buy as a boxed game, unlike on Wii where it was only available through Wiiware download.

BRAID

I don’t think any indie game ever had this much hype, so when the game one day became XBLA release the uproar every bit as big as one could expect.

EVERYDAY SHOOTER

This one was similar to Braid: hyped and praised as PC game, got all awards as PC game and then Sony came and took it from under our noses right before it was supposed to be out. When it eventually appeared on PC months later I was actually surprised, Playstation’s PSN works quite differently from XBLA and Wiiware and most indie games released through it are owned by Sony, they simply buy the IP before release. So for Everyday Shooter to see release on PC was a very pleasant surprise.

ZEN BOUND

This quirky game from guys who with Stair Dismount made throwing people down the stairs fun 😉 was annouced for multiple platforms, including PC, the first screens were actually from PC version. It’s been 6 months since launch of iPhone version and there’s no word about whether PC version will be coming out or not at all.

EDUARDO THE SAMURAI TOASTER

This is worse than those above, after numerous prototypes on PC, the game eventually switched to being Wiiware-only game with no hope of PC release (at least for now)

NIGHT GAME

The last case is the most painful one, as Within a Deep Forest, Knytt and Knytt Stories became sort of benchmarks of how good freeware platformers can get. So to see the game go Wii-only despite being announced as Wii/PC title truly sucked. What I really liked however is that Nifflas simmiedietly after signing the deal informed the fans that there will be no PC version, he also disabled the donating options on his site even before the annoucement. This shows a real class and proves the respect Nifflas has towards his fans.

Seeing how often it’s happening to those console-like games maybe we should get used to it and stop overreacting everytime it happens? I know it’s hard, but if you don’t own certain console or for some reason just refuse to buy the game on anything but PC there are always other indie devs who do release games on PC that are worth your money
Trust me, it’s better to spend time playing And Yet it Moves than doing flame war in Fez related threads

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Responses

  1. We’ll stop overreacting when those developers stop using us to build up noise and then abandon us for the quick bucks.

  2. what quick bucks?


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