Psychonauts 2 Boss Tim Schafer On The Unstoppable Rise Of Subscriptions And Game Pass

"I don't really feel like there's much of a choice about these things."

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Subscription services in video games are growing in popularity and prominence, and it's only a matter of time before they completely take over, according to Double Fine boss Tim Schafer. He said in an interview with GI.biz that the push toward subscription services is "just unstoppable," observing that it's already happened with movies and music, and games may be next.

"I don't really feel like there's much of a choice about these things," Schafer said. "The way things are going is not something I feel like I have control over. You look at what happened with streaming in other media and it's just unstoppable. Even as a consumer, I went through a move recently and had all these boxes of DVDs and CDs and was like, 'Why do I own all these things?' So even as a consumer, I'm part of that move to subscription services. It just fits more of what I want."

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Now that Double Fine is part of Microsoft, its new games will come to Xbox Game Pass, just like all of Microsoft's first-party games do. Schafer said this is a good thing for Double Fine because it opens up the potential audience for the studio's games beyond what might have been possible before if people had to pay $70 to get started.

"I think everything is moving in some form or another to subscriptions. That's just a relationship with players which I think is really great for Double Fine, where we want to do something new and original and surprising, which means there might be a higher barrier of entry for players who don't know what this is," Schafer said. "And by lowering that barrier financially where it's not a matter of buying one $70 game over another and it's more about the time it takes to download them because they're all up there on Game Pass, I think that's a huge way for Double Fine games to find their audiences faster."

Schafer also observed that, despite issues and concerns around the potentially negative aspects of subscription services, companies like Netflix have demonstrated the power of the subscription-based model to create huge amounts of money that can be reinvested into original programming.

"Netflix definitely has its own ecosystem, but it's funding a lot of original content," Schafer said. "A lot of those services are funding and creating shows, and really high-quality shows are coming into existence that wouldn't have existed under, say, network television models. For us, being part of Xbox and Game Pass was being on the positive side of that. Let's be where original new great content is being funded and created, so that was our navigation choice."

Double Fine's latest game is Psychonauts 2, which finally released on August 25 after more than five years of development following its successful crowdfunding campaign. For more, check out GameSpot's Psychonauts 2 review.

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