Publishers still needed for expensive AAA development, though.
By Alice Lynton on March 2, 2014 at 7:07 am
Double Fine used to subscribe to the traditional industry business model of pitching games to publishers, then making just enough money to pay staff till the next successful pitch – a risky, stressful, low-return strategy.
Speaking to Kotaku, founder Tim Schafer said the company is free from that whirlwind now, having ensured a steady supply of funds by self-publishing – including regaining the rights to some of its back catalogue.
What’s interesting is that Double Fine, a champion of the Kickstarter revolution, isn’t dependent on crowd-funding – which, by the way, rarely earns enough to fund an entire game, even when it runs into the millions.
“The Kickstarter was obviously a huge new way of doing things, but the biggest change was going into self-publishing where all those games you were saying didn’t do well, they actually sold fine for someone who was doing self-publishing,” Schafer said.
“So now that we have the publishing rights for those games back, they make us a lot of money that we used to invest back into Broken Age.”
For example, Schafer said sales of Brütal Legend have helped fund Broken Age, and Psychonauts is now making more money than ever before.
“Psychonauts has been out so long and developed such a cult following that every time there’s a Steam sale it’s generating a bunch of money for us,” he said.
“The scale of those sales makes the most sense for a company of our size. It might not be a blip on the radar for a company like Microsoft or EA or a huge company like that, but, for us, it allows us to make a thriving business off of creative ideas and inspiration-driven development.
“We made more money off of Psychonauts in the last two years than we ever did before—mostly because we didn’t have the publishing rights.”
This is just one of the reasons why Schafer and his team patiently chase the rights to games from their histories, like those Schafer designed while at LucasArts, which Disney is keeping a tight hold of despite doing absolutely nothing with them.