Since it began self-publishing, Double Fine is making more off its back catalogue than ever before.
Speaking to Kotaku, Double Fine boss Tim Schafer said crowdfunding isn’t the only thing that has changed the independent studio’s approach to business; regaining the rights to self-publish its own games has been a major factor.
“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,” he 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.”
Scahfer said that sales of Brütal Legend helped fund Broken Age, for example, and cult-favourite Psychonauts – a poster boy for under-selling quality games – is finally making decent money.
“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. The scale of those sales makes the most sense for a company of our size,” Schafer added.
“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.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Schafer mentioned he’s still fighting to purchase rights to games he created at LucasArts, like Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. These games have been out of print for some time, but Disney doesn’t seem keen to let them go.
“Since the day I left Lucas I’ve tried to get those rights back. Large companies don’t like to let go of things even if they’re not using them, which is frustrating, but we try, because I would not like them to be in other people’s hands and I would like to do something with them or at least have them available,” Schafer said.
“I would like to have them be available so people could buy them instead of pirate them if they wanted to. They don’t even have that option now. And I think if someone were going to do a nice version of it, it should be us. If someone was going to do a nice version of Grim [Fandango], I think it should be us.
“We want to do it and we have talked to them,” he said. “We’ve always talked to whoever had the rights and we’ll see. I’ll never give up. Someday someone will slip and accidentally give me…”
Double Fine is currently working on the second act of Broken Age, its crowdfunded adventure, as well as SpaceBase DF-9 and Hack & Slash. It also has Massive Chalice, a kickstarted strategy RPG, on the go.