Tim Schafer explains how Microsoft acquired Double Fine

The renowned game designer Tim Schafer, whose credits include some of the greatest adventure games ever made (Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Day of the Tentacle, The Secret of Monkey Island, to name a few), recently spoke to GamesIndustry about the unusual path it took. Microsoft to acquire Double Fine in June 2019.

Acquisition was not in our plans. I always wanted to be open to that. We have always kept all of our intellectual property at Double Fine and invested in our own technology during the early years of our development. […] There’s been a lot of investment money floating around in games over the past five years. There’s been a lot of talk about investing from abroad, and we were getting interested in what we could do if we had some kind of money, what we could do for the game and how we could invest and expand the studio. That just got us talking to everyone, and we talked to Microsoft. But they don’t make that kind of small bet; they just make really big commitments to entire studios.

So an acquisition was not in the plan, but when we heard about their philosophy starting with the acquisition of Mojang – how they succeeded in acquiring but not absorbing companies, not interfering with them and allowing them to be creatively who they are – it really worked and it was a hit for them, and it looked very attractive to us.

Later in the interview, Tim Schafer also confirmed that the Microsoft never interfered in any way with the development of Psychonauts 2.

We’ve been given a lot of creative freedom now. Nobody investigated Psychonauts 2 to guess our decisions or anything like that. We are confident that we can handle the creative side completely, but we can opt for all of these features, such as accessibility testing and mental health check. We had the resources, but we were creatively left to our own devices. And that’s been great.

This choice seems to have paid off. Originally crowdfunded via Fig in the early days of 2016, Psychonauts 2 was finally released to rave reviews last week.