Microsoft’s acquisition of Double Fine is a major boon to the Xbox manufacturer and a huge blow to PlayStation fans, and—barring the insane idea that Microsoft might do multiplatform releases—Psychonauts 2 will be the last PlayStation release from the developer. PlayStation fans will get one last benefit from Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio, however. According to a recent interview with Double Fine’s Tim Schafer, Microsoft’s purchase of the developer allowed the team to re-expand the scope of Psychonauts 2 after having to cut content.
In a wider GamesIndustry.biz article about Microsoft’s strategy behind acquiring and integrating studios—including the likes of Mojang, Ninja Theory, Obsidian, and of course, Double Fine—Tim Schafer talked about how Psychonauts 2 was reaching the end of its budget, and the team had to start cutting a lot of content, including boss fights.
“With Psychonauts 2, we could see the end of our budget coming up, and so we had cut a lot of stuff,” Schafer said. “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.”
Schafer explains that the Microsoft ownership is a level of comfort and security the studio didn’t have the luxury of before. Limited time and budget meant that the creative process could be impacted. “I’m looking forward to doing things for the right reasons. When you only have a certain amount of time and money, you might jump into a part of the game that you’re not ready to jump into, or start working on art before you’re ready with design,” he said. “But now I look forward to this era where we are doing everything for what is right for the game.”
While it may be a bummer not to see anymore Double Fine games on PlayStation once Psychonauts 2 launches, the studio is in a better position to create. And Microsoft isn’t imposing itself on the developer, either. Double Fine is free to continue operating how they always have, just under the Microsoft umbrella. “Things have been almost exactly the same, just without the terror of going out of business all the time.” Schafer said of how operations have been since Microsoft took over. “We’ve been doing this for 20 years, so it’s not that terrifying. But you do think about where we’re going to get the next six months of salaries from. That fills your mind a lot, and I am just getting used to my mind being free of that. Being able to apply it to games and creativity has been an adjustment, but a really great adjustment.”
Last year, Psychonauts 2 was delayed to an unspecified date in 2020, however we also haven’t heard anything specifically about the game in about a year. Last time we saw it in action was at E3 2019, just after Microsoft announced its acquisition of the company. It’s unknown if this newfound creative freedom is going to further delay the game as Double Fine works to expand the scope of the project and put back content that would have otherwise been cut, which is a win for the PlayStation Psychonauts fans out there.