Patching a console game runs a dev $40,000 according to Tim Schafer

Time Schafer has been making news lately with his pitch to fans for the money to make a new adventure game like he used to make (Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango). That’s been going pretty well for him, and in talking about how great it’s been with Hookshot Inc., he mentioned that patching a console game costs $40,000. … What?

The talk of course touched on the indie games scene. Schafer’s company, Double Fine, after having enough of dealing with publishers to make full budget games, has seen great success in the downloadable markets like Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network with smaller yet still very creative titles like Stacking or Costume Quest. Schafer grew excited for the services, seeing gaming’s “own little Sundance Film festival.” But it wasn’t quite so great.

“Those systems as great as they are, they’re still closed. You have to jump through a lot of hoops, even for important stuff like patching and supporting your game. Those are things we really want to do, but we can’t do it on these systems. I mean, it costs $40,000 to put up a patch – we can’t afford that!”

That’s a pretty costly handful of bug fixes. As a result of these mounting costs, smaller indie teams like his own have turned to alternative means like the more open Steam platform on PC, simply putting it out themselves ala Minecraft, or now, of course, Kickstarter.

While it’s great that these independent developers still manage to find ways to get their fresh ideas out to the world, and even better that gamers are responding, it’s odd that big players like Sony and Microsoft aren’t showing as much excitement over it. Clearly, there is money to be made there, and why the heck shouldn’t console players get to enjoy a brand new adventure game from one of the genre’s masters?

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