It Costs $40,000 to Patch a Game?!

Holy crap. Studios pay that much money just to fix their games post release?

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris


Video Games receive post-launch patches all the time. Whether it's to stomp out a pesky bug, tweak some settings for balancing purposes, or add new features, patches have become an industry mainstay. However, thanks to an interview over at Hookshot, it's been revealed how much a patch, no matter how big or small, costs the developers to apply — $40,000.

Holy. Damn.

Double Fine's Tim Schafer is the man responsible for dropping that info bomb. Schafer has had probably one of the best weeks of his entire life this past week, not only chatting with Minecraft creator "Notch" behind the scenes about funding a potential sequel to Psychonauts, but also getting a new point-and-click adventure game fully funded through Kickstarter within eight hours of announcing it. Life as been good to Mr. Schafer and his studio, Double Fine, as of late. So Hookshot caught up with the man to talk about a number of topics, revealing in the process just how much it costs a studio to patch their titles. 

"Those systems [Xbox Live and PSN] as great as they are, they're still closed," Schafer said. "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! Open systems like Steam, that allow us to set our own prices, that's where it's at, and doing it completely alone like Minecraft. That's where people are going."

That is a ridiculous amount of money just to fix something broken/missing from your game. How many games these days release with Day 1 patches? Do the developers of those games have to fork over that extra money just to make their game playable on its day of release? With a number so high, you would think developers would iron out all the bugs and problems before the game goes to press in order to bypass these ludicrous patch prices. Time and resources are obviously a factor here, but hot damn, that's a lot of cheddar to be spending right after your game gets shipped. 

It's also interesting to do some crude math in situations like these. Patches usually range anywhere in size from 3 MB to 100 MB, roughly. If you have a patch that is only 3 MB, you're paying over $13 per byte to upload it! A 100 MB patch costs developers 40 cent per byte. The latter is a more economical value, but it's still nowhere near great. 

Long story short: patches cost a ridiculous amount of money to fix your game if it releases on Xbox 360 and PS3. Therefore, it's probably wise to get the game right before it steps foot outside the studio that made it.