Microsoft has long been famed for their laboriously slow update certification process that forces each and every patch to undergo weeks of rigorous testing and vetting before going live. Only the canniest of developers like Twisted Pixel and Team Meat have been able to get around this problem without having to release new content as DLC, but Minecraft's upcoming XBLA port may be set to change all that. 4J Studios, the team behind the Mojang port, purports that Microsoft intends to speed up, streamline and cut back the certification procedure to allow for "constant updates," which should have a knock-on effect throughout both the arcade and indie marketplaces.
Speaking to EDGE, 4J CTO Paddy Burns suggests that Minecraft might be the first XBLA game to allow for frequent and constant updates thanks to an upcoming shift in Microsoft's philosophy regarding the unwieldy certification procedure.
Microsoft knows that to do a similar thing that's on PC where they constantly update it, that's a very difficult thing to do on Xbox because you have to go through the full tests. But they are quite keen to move towards that - they do see it as the future, so I think we might be the first to do constant updates.
However, Burns was also quick to suggest that XBLA still won't be anywhere near as the PC in terms of update frequency, and that there will always be an element of certification before patches go live. Which is probably for the best.
I think that there will always be Microsoft testing involved.
But the whole turnaround of that testing they're hoping to speed up, so we can maybe roll out very two months. We'll have to see how that goes … I'm really looking forward to it being updated with patches and new features after it's released.
If true, this is fantastic news for gamers and developers alike. Many studios are exasperated by constantly having to jump through hoops in order to patch and update their games, and sometimes even ignore the platform entirely for that very reason. Here's hoping that 4J are on the money.