The future of Double Fine's publishing arm is 'complicated' after Microsoft acquisition

(Image credit: Double Fine Presents)

Double Fine Presents is a publishing venture launched by Double Fine Productions in 2014 to help indie developers get promising projects over the finish line. Its first partnership resulted in the excellent Escape Goat 2, and it's also helped deliver Mountain, Gang Beasts, and Gnog. It was set to publish the highly-anticipated fantasy farm life sim Ooblets, until Microsoft's acquisition of Double Fine earlier this year put that plan to rest.

Another game set to be published by Double Fine Presents, Knights and Bikes, was eventually put out under the label even after the acquisition. But it might be the last one: Double Fine founder Tim Schafer told Destructoid that the future of the publishing branch isn't clear, but it sounds unlikely that it'll carry on in its current form.

"How Double Fine Presents will evolve is kind of an unknown. 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," he said. "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."

Even if the publishing arm is shuttered, Schafer said the studio can continue to pursue its goals of aiding indie devs and helping promising games get wider 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," he said.

"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, and 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."

That final point echos what Schafer said in July about the Microsoft acquisition: That the buyout will enable the studio to stay "experimental" and focus solely on game development, rather than having to dedicate resources to maintaining revenue generation. And no matter what happens to Double Fine Presents, we'll always have this video of Tim Schafer killing a guy.

Double Fine is currently working on Psychonauts 2, which was recently pushed into 2020.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.