Why did Tim Schafer sell Double Fine to Xbox Game Studios? Here’s his frank and refreshingly honest explanation.
One of the biggest surprise announcements at this year’s Xbox E3 press conference – well, apart from Keanu – was that Xbox Game Studios has acquired Double Fine Productions. Double Fine, formerly indie developer, publisher, and purveyor of weird and wonderful games, don’t exactly seem like the best fit for Xbox, who last year acquired studios like Ninja Theory and Playground Games, known for their big budget, high-fidelity productions.
Double Fine’s founder and head honcho, Tim Schafer, even made a joke to this effect on stage, offering to work on Halo, Forza, Excel; basically anything Microsoft wants them to. (Then quickly rescinded his offer, admitting that Double Fine would have no idea how to really do any of that, the trickster.)
It’s a similar situation to when Valve, who no longer really care about making video games, bought Campo Santo, the developer of Firewatch and the upcoming In the Valley of the Gods. It seemed like an odd couple. People wondered what the motivation was But in that case – and other than moving the studio from California to Seattle, Washington – Valve have largely left Campo Santo to manage their own business, presumably with a large injection of cash, which can only be a good thing for the security and prosperity of the small studio.
It looks like the Xbox/Double Fine deal might be a similar arrangement. In what marks a refreshing turn of honesty (in amongst all the flim-flam about Epic Store exclusivity and not wanting to piss off Steam advocates) Tim Schafer released a short video explaining the decision to join Microsoft Game Studios. The reason? Money. (Bucketfulls of the stuff. Probably.)
But in all seriousness, the sort of publishing budget that Xbox Game Studios has is a real boon to a studio like Double Fine.
“The thought of being able to develop those [new game ideas] without dragging them all over the world, pitching them to every publisher that exists, is just really nice to think about.” Tim Schafer, founder and creative director, Double Fine Productions
Double Fine Productions, and Tim Schafer, are in the business of making weird indie games. They might not truly be indie anymore, but with more money available – and hopefully, if Microsoft leaves them alone to steer their own ship – they’ll be able to make bigger, better versions of the games they were already making. It also means more job stability and probably additional hiring for Double Fine, too, which is another massive bonus in the fiscally precarious business of indie development.
It also won’t have a material effect on Double Fine’s current project, Psychonauts 2, in terms of platform availability. The game will come to Xbox Game Pass, but it will still release on PS4 for Kickstarter backers who chose that platform, in addition to Xbox One and Windows PC. That may not always be the case for future games from the studio, but those sorts of repercussions are to be expected.
We hate to ask, but...
Thumbsticks has a couple of goals. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. And right now, with the current state of online publishing? It's tough to meet those goals! We hate to ask, but if you want us to continue writing what others won't, or to keep covering weird indie games, or to be able to give opportunities to new writers – and only if you can afford it – then please consider supporting us on Patreon.
Recommended for you
Latest from Thumbsticks
New Nintendo Switch releases (June 21-25, 2021)
Mario Golf: Super Rush and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 top this week’s lineup of new Nintendo Switch eShop releases.
New Xbox Series X|S releases (June 21-25, 2021)
Bandai Namco’s Scarlet Nexus headlines next week's lineup of new Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S releases.
New PlayStation Store releases (June 21-25, 2021)
Next week's lineup of new PlayStation Store releases sees some old favourites get a new lease of life.
You can now design custom Xbox Series X|S controllers
Let your imagination run wild – the Xbox Design Lab has re-opened, and you can now design custom Xbox Series...
Nintendo’s Doug Bowser clarifies the future of Animal Crossing after E3 absence
Fans hoping for an update on Animal Crossing: New Horizons at E3 came away disappointed. Worry not, says Doug Bowser.
Bethesda’s Pete Hines ‘sorry’ for frustration that Starfield won’t come to PlayStation 5
In an interview, Bethesda's senior vice president of marketing, Pete Hines, spoke to PlayStation fans, apologising for the frustration that...
Metro Exodus Xbox Series X|S and PS5 upgrade detailed
With Metro Exodus about to launch on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, developer 4A Games has outlined some of...
Something was conspicuously absent from the Xbox E3 2021 conference
Master Chief? Present. Forza? Here. Sea of Thieves? Yarr! Bethesda exclusives? You bet. So why did it feel like something...