‘Publishers aren’t bad guys, but indies have to look elsewhere’ says Tim Schafer

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Double Fine boss Tim Schafer has been popping up in the news quite frequently as of late, thanks to rumours of a Psychonauts sequel and his Kickstarter initiative for a new independently developed game proving to be a huge success.

It’s been a massive win for Schafer so far, with the gaming industry realizing that the fans are more than willing to donate towards a game that the bigger publishers are hesitant to finance.

With such initiatives paving the way for smaller, more creative titles to be developed, it puts the larger publishers in a negative light, but Schafer thinks that this is not so, as he explained that producing a new game was a risky move for both parties in the current economic climate.

“I’m not vilifying or saying publishers are evil, or that they’re not doing what they should be doing,” Schafer told IndustryGamers.

It’s just it’s inherent in that set up that they risk a lot of their own money and, therefore, they need to invest in mitigating that risk and there’s a cost or a burden with that risk mitigation that affects development in a negative way.

But I don’t think that they’re jerks – well some of them are, the ones that sue us,” Schafer said, most likely referring to the lawsuit that Activision filed against Double Fine after the publisher cancelled Brutal Legend.

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Schafer then spoke about how there were “great people at the publishers” who are “doing the right thing for themselves”, but that the current model of business did not provide for a suitable working environment that suited the standards of Double Fine.

“Our MO is we like to make up a lot of stuff. We like to make up new worlds and characters and we like to come up with new ideas, and so that goes against that kind of risk mitigation because when you sand off all the sharp edges and you curb your ideas just to play a safe thing and that’s not what we want to make,” Schafer said.

This is allowing us to make things and to take risks – every game can be totally different, like Happy Action Theater; it’s completely different than anything we’ve made before and anything that has been made before and I think that’s what people who really like our company want us to do. They don’t want us to play it safe.

At the end of the day, this all boils down to publishers and gamers having different expectations for a game when it is finally greenlit for production, Schafer says.

If I took money from a publisher, then I’d say, ‘Hey, publisher. You’re going to risk all your money on me. I’m going to try my best to make you some money. But to my creative self and my team and my fans I’m like, ‘I’m going to make a great game.

So for the fans, I’m saying, ‘I’m going to make the most awesome game possible.

I feel like the obligation is to be as creative as possible, which is a really unique force to have. It’s intimidating that I think the audience for this is going to want us to go nuts and do something really, really creative and not play it safe.

With funding secured for their new project, Double Fine is actually aiming to make a profit off of their upcoming title.

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“The reason to make it profitable is that we want to do this again. We want to show that it works. It’s not a charity; it’s a business plan. Just an innovative business plan, and we want to make them work and do more of them,” Schafer said.

Now if only someone would initiate a Kickstarter drive to get a Freelancer 2 game made, then I would be in heaven.

Last Updated: February 14, 2012

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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