One of Microsoft’s surprise announcements at E3 this year was the acquisition of longtime independent studio Double Fine, which made Brutal Legend and the Psychonauts series. Now, Double Fine boss Tim Schafer has spoken about the buyout and why Double Fine agreed to it.
Speaking to Game Informer, Schafer said he was initially "very concerned" in regards to the impact an acquisition might have on Double Fine’s "culture and identity." However, after speaking with Microsoft, he determined Double Fine would be able to retain its identity.
— Double Fine (@DoubleFine) June 9, 2019
"I was very concerned about our culture and identity," Schafer said. "They explained the new way they’re doing these acquisitions with unplugged studios that are not integrated into Microsoft. They’re left alone, they do their own thing and stay independent, but are well funded. It sounds like a good deal."
In the end, Schafer said it’s a "perfect" deal for Double Fine. The studio will get to keep making its "inspired weird games" but now it won’t have to worry about securing funds for its next project, Schafer said. Independent studios like Double Fine before the buyout are known to have multiple plates spinning between developing games and constantly seeking funds for what’s next.
Also in the interview, Schafer said it will decide on a "case by case" basis if other teams inside Microsoft could potentially work on Double Fine IPs in the future.
Double Fine had operated as an independent studio since its founding in 2000. Some of its popular early games included Psychonauts, Brutal Legend, Costume Quest, and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, all of which were published by different companies. In 2012, Double Fine kicked off a "Kickstarter revolution" of sorts with an adventure game that would go on to be known as Broken Age. The studio’s next game is the post-apocalyptic rogue-like Rad, which is published by Bandai Namco and due for release in 2019. Psychonauts 2 will follow in 2020.
It remains to be seen what Double Fine will develop under its new ownership by Microsoft. Terms of the Microsoft acquisition were not disclosed.
With the acquisition of Double Fine, Microsoft now has 15 game studios. The big number of development teams gives Microsoft a new level of freedom to not rush games out for release.