Tim Schafer Isn't Trying To 'Vilify' Publishers

Tim Shafer's Double Fine Adventure game, and its approach to Kickstarter funding has really put a proverbial cat amongst the pigeons, and by pigeons we mean publishers! In a great interview with Hookshot Inc, Schafer explains he isn't necessarily against the traditional publisher system — but it's difficult when they won't fund the games he wants to make!

"I’ve pitched to publishers before, said Schafer. "When I showed them games like Psychonauts and Brutal Legend, they’d say, 'your pitch is very... creative.'

"I knew we wouldn’t get an adventure funded. But I started to wonder how many fans there were out there. I thought, instead of me just saying ‘this is impossible’ let’s give those fans a shot at putting their money where their mouth is."

Despite having issues with publishers not being receptive to new creative ideas, he understands the need for publishers to manage risk.

"I’m not trying to vilify them," he claimed. "Publishers do their business in a way that works for them. They’re risking millions of dollars so they’ve got to mitigate that risk – and sometimes that means removing risky ideas from games.

"The thing is, Double Fine is all about coming up with new, unproven and really creative ideas. It’s a constant battle for us to get those ideas to go through the system, that long spanking machine of people who have to sign off on you. They’re not evil, they’re just trying to protect themselves."

It really is a top notch interview, at a time when Tim Schafer may be the most important man in the games industry right now. It's well worth heading over to Hookshot Inc for the full interview.

Interview: Schafer’s Millions [Hookshot Inc]


    I have huge respect for this guy, and moreso now when he calls the publication process a 'spanking machine' :)

    How do you get a gamer to fund your project? Give them an incentive. Tell him it won't get done unless THEY do something then give them the ability to do something. We've just gamified the whole goddamn industry.

      Give this man an internet.

    Publishers don't need someone to vilify them, they do a pretty good job of vilifying themselves, what with the DRM, poor support, poor and stupid distribution models (and taking a very long time to change them), and a very clear focus on profit.

    Getting funds from places like Kickstarter works great if you are already very well known for things like Tim Shafer has done. People loved the games that he created or helped create and because of that he was able to get teh money that he needed. $1 million

    What's wrong with vilifying publishers?

    The majority of decisions they make are (understandably) focused on making money - though it comes at the expense of consumer value and enjoyment.

      There are publishers willing to take on riskier projects. If there weren't we wouldn't have Brutal Legend and Psychonauts at all. They don't all deserve to be villified.

      If funding was left purely to gamers I don't think we'd be much better off. Pre-Arkham Asylum I think it would have been impossible to convince gamers you were going to make a Batman game that justified the development costs. It wasn't until we started seeing the results that gamers were able to get over the 'licensed games automatically suck' mentality.

      There's plenty wrong with the system but not every publisher is EA and Activision (at least not yet). There's some good guys out there who know a good game pitch when they hear it, trust the developers they're working with and know their audiences.


          You know what else helped us get over the ‘licensed games automatically suck’ mentality?

          Licensed games not sucking!

      Well would you be willing to risk possibly 10s of millions of dollars on a game that could tank? I doubt an adventure game would cost that much to create (although how awesome would that be?) but even a few million is a lot for investors to risk for little return. Hopefully this project will show investors it can be profitable, with the right team, and allow other developers to take a risk with their money.

        Speaking of which, how much did Curse of Monkey Island cost to make? The whole game was hand-drawn 2D animation and still looks amazing today. We really need more adventure games like that.

      Like he said, they have very good reasons for what they do, whether we like it or not.

      Plus, if you were him, there's a very high chance you would still have to work with publishers some time in the future, so I imagine he wants to make sure they know he's not trying to make enemies.

    2 things:

    - if this were Tony Warriner/Revolution would it have received the same response? Or was Schafer assisted by his cult status? Its less about it being a traditional adventure game and more about it being a Schafer game.
    - if he's pitching to publishers then where's the concepts or proposal for this game he plans to make?

    Its the combination of no information plus the planned documentary series that make me feel its more of a stunt than simply running out of avenues to fund his game.

    The $400,000 he was asking is not a great deal, and there are plenty of publishers in the adventure game field who could've funded such a budget. Given his status in the genre wouldn't The Adventure Company, Microids or Focus Home jump at the chance to work with Schafer?

      For your first question: I imagine it was a combination of it being a traditional adventure game BY Tim Schafer. Had it been Schafer raising funds for Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster 2, or if it had've been Bob Nobody putting together a traditional adventure game, it wouldn't have gotten anywhere near as much interest/funding.

    I think it bodes incredibly well for the future if we're even considering the possibility that Schafer is the most important figure in the modern game industry.

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