Tim Schafer and Double Fine are looking to help indie developers get their games out without publisher interference.
Schafer talked about his plan in an interview with GamesIndustry International this week.
Double Fine had a rough first ten years. Their first two games, Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, were critically acclaimed but didn’t garner the sales necessary to justify the development costs. Brutal Legend in particular was tough to get published in the first place.
Since then, the developer has focused on making smaller titles with shorter development cycles, finding it a more direct route to its audience as well as allowing more freedom to create the sorts of games it wants to create.
Schafer wants to use the team’s experiences with both sides of the industry to help other small developers avoid some of the pitfalls Double Fine has survived.
“[Independent developers] don’t like anybody acting like their parents, claiming they know what to do. [Publishers] aren’t your parents. They’re a business and you’re a business, and when it comes down to it, they’re going to do what’s right by them. That can be dangerous for anyone just starting out,” Schafer says.
“When you’re just starting out you have such a great advantage over everyone else. You don’t have a lot of bills to pay, employees to feed; you’re just two people making a game and it’s easy to be fooled by someone who comes along and says, ‘You don’t know what’s going on, you’re going to get taken advantage of by the industry, so come to us, give us your rights… let us take care of you and make sure you’re okay.”
Double Fine doesn’t intend to start publishing other peoples’ games exactly, but Schafer wants to help these developers get their games out however he can. He’s not even quite sure what exactly he intends Double Fine to do or how it plans to monetize it exactly, explaining that the studio is “just kind of feeling it out right now. If we want it to be something that’s supported by a paid staff… we’re going to need to be paid something,” he says.
“If a game is a huge hit, we’d be able to share in that in some way, but… we don’t get any of their Kickstarter money. We don’t take a chunk of their funding.”
The studio does, however, intend to be choosy about which games it provides services for, helping out with games that fit Double Fine’s quirky feel, something akin to a director like Tarantino or del Toro putting their name in front of an otherwise unknown film to give it an additional boost.
Either way, we should start seeing the Double Fine name attached to some interesting new games – the team is already working with the development teams behind Escape Goat 2 and Last Life, and likely has more unannounced collaborations on the way.