The independent studio didn't get enough money when it worked with other publishers
Double Fine, the studio of famous designer Tim Schafer, started to make a lot of money once it began self-publishing its games on the PC platform, as until then the studio's work has only been rewarded by other publishers, like EA, THQ, or Microsoft.Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine went through some tough moments a few years ago, as their long-awaited Brutal Legend game failed to generate the sales it required for a sequel, meaning publisher EA dropped the whole thing.
The studio, out of necessity, started focusing on smaller downloadable games that didn't require that big of an investment and quickly released hits like Costume Quest, Stacking, or Iron Brigade, not to mention others like Once Upon a Monster or Double Fine Happy Action Theater.
But what really helped the studio get back on its feet were the PC versions of those games, which were self-published by Double Fine through Steam.
"Our angel investor, Dracogen, has helped us fund PC ports of our games. When we published those, all of the sudden we started making money on our games. Which was an unusual thing for us," Schafer told Polygon.
"Usually, when you have a big hit game, like a band with a hit record, your band gets rich. But no other bands get rich, right? The same with games. If you have a moderate-selling game, a game that breaks even or does well, you don't get any money from publishers."
Schafer now notes just how important self-publishing is and how using things like angel investors or crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter can help an independent studio.
"We actually got the publishing rights back to Psychonauts. We got the PC rights to a lot of our games, and published them, and we instantly started making money. And we realized how much money we're losing out on by not controlling our own destiny. So, through the help of angel investors, and looking at things like Kickstarter, we're looking to get away from publishers, and to get better deals for ourselves," he added.
Double Fine is currently working on a variety of titles, like The Cave, in collaboration with Sega, or the Double Fine Adventure title, which was crowdfunded through Kickstarter.