Update: Lab Zero has informed XBLAFans that the studio has been working with Microsoft and has successfully shrunken down the size of the update some, though they declined to go into specifics about the current size of the update. Look for a full follow-up article coming soon. Original story below.
Lab Zero Games, the studio now responsible for all things Skullgirls following publisher Autumn Games and original developer Reverge Labs parting ways last summer, still hasn't been able to get the patch that released for the PSN version of its fighting game in November onto the Xbox Live Marketplace. The holdup, apparently, is Microsoft's XBLA update file size limit.
A tweet from the official Japanese Skullgirls Twitter account went out on Friday claiming that the update is exponentially larger than what Microsoft will allow. The update Lab Zero put together for its fighting game is roughly 590 MB in size — a whopping 147.5 times the size of the paltry 4 MB limit the developer says Microsoft places on updates. A rough Google translation showed that the Skullgirls team is under the impression that it's possible to be granted an exception, but the process is arduous.
The revelatory tweet came on the same day that the main Skullgirls Twitter account stated that the team was "frustrated." It's not clear whether its frustrations are directed at Microsoft size limits or the two sides' inabilities to get something worked out, but XBLAFans has followed up in an attempt to find out exactly what the team is unsated with and will update this story if we get a response.
Regardless of where the developer's frustrations lie, Lab Zero Games is working with Microsoft to get the patch out "as soon as possible," so there is still hope that it will make its way to XBLA. Skullgirls fans might not want to get their hopes up too high for it to appear anytime soon. The patch has been "held up in MS submission and holiday limbo" since as far back as December 12, according to an earlier tweet by the game's official account. Though the team was said to be "pushing hard" later that very week, the calendar is nearing an entire month later and it sounds as if little, if any, progress has been made.
Full details on the almost ridiculously expansive patch can be found here. In addition to a number of fixes, palette swaps for current characters and much, much more the update will also bring a trio of XBLA-specific changes when it ultimately finds its way onto the platform. The game's file system has been "completely overhauled" to allow for "greatly" improved load times; a leaderboard fix will squash a bug that stops ranks from being lost when matches are won; and the super-shadows in Blockbuster attacks are now shaded properly.
This is hardly the first time a developer has had to seek a workaround for issues resulting from Microsoft's XBLA update rules. Warner Bros. was able to leverage its considerable clout and popular Lord of the Rings license to arrange a speedy solution to Microsoft's usually drawn-out certification process for Guardians of Middle-earth. Previously, developer Polytron elected not to fix a bug contained in a Fez update that corrupted some save files, citing the high cost of XBLA updates as the reason.
As for Skullgirls, its XBLA patch isn't the only thing that's been thrown on the backburner by Lab Zero Games. "Four or five" DLC characters were additionally in the plans for the fighting game — with even more characters apparently having been planned for "like… three games" — but the DLC plans were shelved once all this "drama started."
The drama in question could be in reference to Microsoft's storage limitations or to the much stickier mess that saw Reverge Labs jettison what Lab Zero claimed in November was "the entire" Skullgirls team. The displaced employees later reformed under the name Lab Zero Games and went back to work on the fighting game it created for the series' original publisher, Autumn Games. For its part, Reverge informed XBLAFans that it was forced with the decision to did have to "lay off some of the Skullgirls team."
A blog post issued on by Reverge CEO Richard Wyckoff on the same day as his response to us stated that "more than a hundred people around the world" worked on the original release, but, again, Wyckoff would only confirm that "some" of that team had been laid off and banded back together as Lab Zero Games. Autumn Games and Lab Zero chose not to respond to repeated questions about the authenticity of Lab Zero's original claim that it had every single member of the original Skullgirls team working for it.
We've requested that Lab Zero shed some light as to whether the "drama" it mentioned was a reference to the studio change — which it stated in an introductory blog post to be the culprit responsible for delaying the first Skullgirls DLC characters — or the Microsoft restrictions that are holding up the release of its bulbous patch. This story will be updated should the team decide to issue a response to either of XBLAFans' inquiries.