Microsoft have finally admitted to doing a nice thing for indie developers: relaxing the once-stringent certification fees that they had to pay every time a new patch or DLC pack was issued.
Yesterday we learned that Microsoft had quietly axed the re-certification fees for Xbox Live Arcade games, meaning that studios can freely issue patches without bankrupting themselves. This has been a major bugbear for smaller developers over the last few years, with titles like Fez unable to correct potentially game-breaking flaws because Polytron ostensibly couldn't afford the additional charges.
Xbox Live corporate vice president Marc Whitten confirmed the news on Twitter, stating that the charges had in fact been relaxed since April 2013. “FYI Microsoft eliminated fees for Title Updates on Xbox 360 Arcade games in April 2013,” he replied to an inquiry from Polygon. Microsoft PR man Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb quickly followed suit. Microsoft could certainly use some good PR right now, and definitely deserve it here.
There'll still be a fee for first-time certification, and for submitting a patch or DLC pack depending on its file size, but this move should help to make XBLA a much more indie-friendly environment. With luck, Xbox One will follow suit and encourage smaller studios onto the platform - preferably with the release of a sturdy set of development tools. I personally wonder whether this news was originally withheld to be announced as part of a major indie-centric push in the coming weeks, but we'll have to wait and see.