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Tim Schafer Recounts Microsoft’s Acquisition of Double Fine

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The acquisition was a boon to the completion of Psychonauts 2.

I spent about half of last week playing Psychonauts 2, a game I have quite literally been waiting 16 years for. Unlike some other sequels I have waited years on end for, I am ecstatic to report that Psychonauts 2 was absolutely worth the wait, capturing everything that made the original great while adding plenty of modern touches. When the game was first crowdfunded a few years ago, followed by a lengthy period of radio silence, I was worried this day would never actually come. According to the game’s director and founder of Double Fine, Tim Schafer, a major contributor to its completion was the studio’s acquisition by Microsoft in 2019.

“We’ve been given so much creative freedom now,” Schafer said in an interview with GameIndustry. “Nobody has probed Psychonauts to second guess our decisions or anything like that. We’ve been trusted to handle the creative side completely, but we can opt-in to all these resources, like having it tested for accessibility and mental health checks. We had the resources but were left creatively to our own devices. And that’s been great, and Microsoft has lived up to their word as far as what they said before the acquisition.”

As an independent studio, Double Fine frequently had troubles securing funding for their games, which is why one of their previous endeavors, Broken Age, had to be crowdfunded. As of the acquisition, that’s a thing of the past. “I would constantly be thinking about how I was going to make payroll in a few months,” Schafer said, “and now I don’t have to think about that at all, so that’s a huge load [off]. That’s been replaced with regular meetings with other studio heads at Microsoft to check in, but the tax on my mind for those meetings is a lot less than the tax of going out and shaking the trees for money all the time.”