Double Fine May No Longer Publish Games Following Microsoft Acquisition

"We can still be fulfilling that mission of just helping indie devs."

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Now Playing: Double Fine Joins Microsoft Game Studios | Microsoft Press Conference E3 2019

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Double Fine has developed a veritable bucketload of games since Tim Schafer founded the studio back in 2000. From Brutal Legend to Iron Brigade, Broken Age, and the upcoming Psychonauts 2, just to name a few. In 2014, the studio branched out and started a publishing arm as a way to help indie developers and provide their games with more exposure, with Double Fine taking a cut of the revenue in return.

This might not happen for too much longer, however. Microsoft acquired the studio earlier this year, potentially rendering the Double Fine Presents label redundant. "How Double Fine Presents will evolve is kind of an unknown," Schafer said in a recent interview with 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."

Despite this, Schafer expressed a desire to continue helping indie devs in any way they can. "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 explained. "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."

To Microsoft's credit, Xbox Studios boss Matt Booty said the company would consider allowing some of its studios to release games on competing consoles on a case-by-case basis. When asked directly if Microsoft would allow Double Fine to release future titles on platforms that compete with Xbox, Booty replied, "Yeah, I think we would."

Even if this doesn't come to fruition, Schafer expressed a desire to continue helping indie devs in other ways. "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," he continued. "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."

Knights & Bikes is the most recent game to be published by Double Fine Presents. The charming cooperative adventure from Foam Sword Games was a hit with David Wildgoose, who said, "Knights & Bikes is a wonderfully warm, effortlessly inviting experience that'll make you feel young again," in GameSpot's review. Whether this is the last indie game Double Fine publishes remains to be seen, but whatever the case, it sounds like the studio will continue to support indie creators and give their games the platform and exposure they need to succeed.

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