E3 wouldn’t be complete these days with Microsoft announcing its hoovered up another studio as a bandaid to its pretty poor first party output. The latest to be ensnared was Double Fine Productions.
Microsoft made the announcement onstage during its Xbox E3 2019 press conference. Studio founder and president Tim Schafer said "For the last 19 years, we've been independent. Then Microsoft came to us and said, 'What if we gave you a bunch of money.' And I said 'OK, yeah.'"
It’s a simple enough explanation, although Double Fine is an outfit which has always been viewed as fiercely independent so it certainly came as a surprise. While we’re not privy to the finer points, it seems Double Fine may have been coasting pretty close to financial disaster a fair few times through the years, primarily relying on Kickstarter funding to get its games going. After Psychonauts 2 publisher Starbreeze ran into trouble, Double Fine probably thought it was best to hit the abort button and jump ship to Microsoft.
As is usual in these scenarios, Schafer has come out and said nothing will change, Double Fine will still have that indie fire in its belly. You know the score by now.
“Being independent for almost 20 years has given Double Fine a distinct identity and a unique spirit that goes really deep here, and no one can change that,” Schafer said. “And nobody wants to. Microsoft wants us for who we are and the kind of games we’re already making.”
On the subject of Psychonauts 2, Microsoft will now be publishing the game. The warped platformer will still be coming to PC, PS4, and Xbox One, so it’s business as usual on that front.
In the meantime, we also got our first proper look at Psychonauts 2 gameplay in the new E3 trailer below.