With half of the year behind us already, Double Fine fans are likely wondering how Psychonauts 2 is shaping up. Pushed out to a 2020 release last year, the long awaited sequel may make a showing soon at Microsoft's upcoming Xbox 20/20 show—but, whether or not it does, director and studio founder Tim Schafer is sharing some new details on how Microsoft's acquisition of Double Fine is helping Psychonauts 2 along.
Speaking with our sister site GamesIndustry.biz for a feature on how Microsoft's studio acquisition spree is panning out, Schafer talks candidly about how the purchase of Double Fine has affected his day-to-day at the studio and recent progress on Psychonauts 2. "Things have been almost exactly the same, just without the terror of going out of business all the time," he says.
Schafer says he's still "just getting used to [his] mind being free" of funding concerns, but later adds that joining Microsoft is helping Double Fine not compromise on Psychonaut 2's scope. Announced with a Fig crowdfunding campaign in 2015, development on the sequel was apparently running up against budgetary limits prior to the studio acquisition last year, Schafer reveals.
"With Psychonauts 2, we could see the end of our budget coming up, and so we had cut a lot of stuff [...] We had cut our boss fights. Now we are able to put those back in, and we're like 'we think people would have noticed if we didn't have those boss fights'. Being able to complete the game in the way that it was meant to be was very important."
On top of Psychonauts 2 benefitting from the backing of Microsoft, Schafer says his conversations with Head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty about Game Pass helped convince him to join Microsoft. "With Game Pass, it wouldn't make sense to acquire Double Fine and then assign us a bunch of Forza DLC," Schafer says. "That's not what you'd want from a studio like Double Fine. And Game Pass seems like a great opportunity to have a diversity of games, a plethora of unusual content... I can see how the type of games that Double Fine makes could fit into that."
Still, while Schafer and the other studio heads interviewed for the piece agree that the Microsoft acquisition has let their teams retain their culture while focusing on game creation, it doesn't mean there haven't been some changes. Just last month, Gang Beasts became the first title to leave Double Fine's publishing catalogue as it winds down that part of the business to focus on development within Xbox Game Studios.
Microsoft has yet to announce a list of titles that will be shown during its upcoming stream on July 23, but it's very likely that Psychonauts 2 will be on the list. Psychonauts 2 will launch as a Game Pass title, but it's also targeted for release on PS4, Mac, and Linux in addition to PC and Xbox One.