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1484660cookie-checkMicrosoft Deal Allows Double Fine To Stay Experimental, Says Tim Schafer
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Microsoft Deal Allows Double Fine To Stay Experimental, Says Tim Schafer

It was announced during the E3 2019 Xbox games showcase Double Fine (Psychonauts, Rad, Brutal Legend) had been purchased by Microsoft. According to studio head Tim Schafer, one of the main reasons the team was eager to jump at this opportunity is that Microsoft plans to basically leave them the hell alone.

In a recent interview with Gamasutra, Schafer noted that Microsoft is doing something a little different when it comes to purchasing studios these days. As Schafer puts it, “they want us to retain our identity, our spirit.”

This relationship was actually teased a bit on stage during E3, when Schafer came out on stage and said that Double Fine was a “team player” and would be happy to make games for the Gears, Forza and Halo universe. When he was assured that would not be necessary and that Microsoft just wanted them to keep doing what they are already doing, Schafer pretended to be super relieved, saying he was really nervous about the idea of working on those other properties.

When this announcement was made, though, many received it with far less excitement. In the world of gaming, it’s become very common for a big publisher to gobble up smaller studios and, for a variety of reasons, dissolve them a couple years later. This frequently comes following said publisher having too heavy a hand in the studio’s projects and screwing everything up.

Anyway, the point is, Schafer said Microsoft doesn’t work that way, which is actually a common theme we’re hearing nowadays. They’ve picked up a lot of studios these past couple of years and those that are taking interviews seem to agree Microsoft bought them because of the games they make, so Microsoft is letting them continue to make those games.

For a studio like Double Fine, it’s obvious why this is such an appealing offer. As he notes in the interview, being picked up by Microsoft under this type of arrangement will allow the team to keep making bizarre, experimental games without having to worry about keeping the studio above water. He also notes that the types of games Double Fine makes are perfect for a service like GamePass, which he said was another big decider in joining Microsoft. He sees Double Fine’s games as being perfect opposite-end-of-the-spectrum offerings from titles like Gears or Forza, which would allow the service to appeal to even more gamers.

History has made me wary of a publisher picking up a small studio, so fingers crossed Microsoft is actually doing things differently these days.

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