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Double Fine’s publishing business is uncertain following Microsoft acquisition, says Schafer

Double Fine Productions founder, Tim Schafer, has acknowledged he’s unclear how the developer’s publishing arm will fare now its development studio has been acquired by Microsoft.

Microsoft announced it was acquiring Schafer’s studio, Double Fine Productions, at E3 2019. The acquisition brings the total number of development studios now working under the Xbox Game Studios brand to 15, joining Obsidian Entertainment and inXile as well as the other acquisitions Microsoft publicised at E3 2018 when it added no less than four new studios – Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, and Compulsion Games – to its first-party lineup, as well as establishing new studio, The Initiative.

“How Double Fine Presents will evolve is kind of an unknown,” Schafer told Destructoid. “It doesn’t make sense to do exactly the kind of publishing stuff if we can’t do it – like, if the platforms are limited. From a business sense, I don’t know if it structurally makes sense to have a publisher within [another publisher]. It’s a complicated issue.

“If you go back to why Double Fine Presents existed, a lot of it came about because there’s so many games and it’s really hard for any individual game now to get a lot of attention for itself,” Schafer added. 

“We’ve been through a lot of deals, seen how they happen, how platform-holders operate, how the press works — all these different things that maybe a first-time indie dev doesn’t know about. We thought we could help them with that and also kind of pick our favorite games and give them more exposure. Whether or not we’re still hands-on publishing those games ourselves, we can still be fulfilling that mission of just helping indie devs even though we’re a part of Microsoft.

“Whether or not we’re still hands-on publishing those games ourselves, we can still be fulfilling that mission of just helping indie devs even though we’re a part of Microsoft,” Schafer added. “We can also still do things like Day of the Devs which is another part of Double Fine Presents that helps elevate 70 or 80 games, and we let people come meet those developers and play those games, and it’s free to the public.

“It’s a great way to approach that same mission, and we can still do that without officially putting our name on it and taking a share of the revenue. We don’t have to do that anymore.”

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond.

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