As ‘Fez’ celebrates its first anniversary, Phil Fish talks Xbox Live sales and the future

FezConsidering how long it took Phil Fish and his few collaborators at Polytron to finish the 2D/3D puzzle adventure Fez, it’s almost shocking that it’s already been a full year since the game came out on Xbox Live Arcade. The game celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday, and Fish discussed the game in an update at Polytron’s website. He also announced some fascinating data for those that have followed Fish’s tumultuous relationship with Microsoft. In the twelve months since it released, the $10 game sold 200,000 copies on the Xbox Live Arcade.

Fez has now sold 200,000 units on XBLA alone,” said Fish, “Which is completely f—ing crazy when you think about it. Thank you!” 

Those sales are an interesting measure of a popular indie game’s success on Microsoft’s downloadable game market. Fez had more promotion than most games of its stature. Its prolonged, nearly five-year development was punctuated by award-winning showings at the Game Developers Conference multiple years in a row. It was also one of the main subjects in Indie Game: The Movie. After that exposure the game sold 100,000 over its first six weeks, but was slow to double that figure.

While those numbers are respectable, they are lower than many other high profile indie games. The 2008 and 2010 XBLA stars Braid and Limbo sold 55,000 and 244,000 copies in their respective first weeks on sale. Both went on to sell more than 450,000 and 892,000 copies on Microsoft’s platform. Then there’s the Xbox Live version of Mojang’s Minecraft, which has sold more than 5 million copies on the platform.

Fish alleged last year that Minecraft, however, received preferential treatment from Microsoft. Where Fish opted to not release a second patch for Fez due to the costs of Microsoft’s certification process, Minecraft received a number of updates on the platform free of charge. Fish has sworn off working with Microsoft’s console in the future.

He will now see how well the game sells off of Xbox Live. A Steam edition will be out on May 1, and Fish has also hinted that he’s trying to get the game onto Sony’s surprising indie darling, the PS Vita.

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