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I’m one of the few people who believes that Tim Schafer deserves to be as rich as he is, which as you probably know is exceedingly so. He is an incredibly talented writer and games designer, possibly one of the best in the industry, and is the mind behind several groundbreaking games. This of course includes Psychonauts, a game which for 10 years has been begging for a sequel, and finally Schafer is giving the people what they want, as long as they are willing to invest.
 
I will say I was certainly intrigued by the prospect. This being Double Fine’s third crowd-funding experience they are certainly behaving a lot wiser and more mature, correcting many of the mistakes made with their first attempt, Broken Age. Instead of asking for a paltry $400,000, they are asking for the more reasonable figure of $3,3 million. This of course is nowhere near enough to make this game, but this time Double Fine are willing to put their own money on the line as well as pulling in an external investor. (Rumored to be Notch who previously offered to invest $10million in a Psychonauts sequel.) There are also far fewer physical rewards, and costly things like T-shirts are placed much higher at $150. They have given themselves a reasonable 2 1/2 year development cycle, and the planning and ideas for Psychonauts 2  as a sequel are clearly further along than they were for Broken Age. Consumers also have the choice not only to back the project but to invest, the idea that brought me to the crowdfunding page in the first place.
 
But investing your money in Psychonauts 2 is not a good idea. 
 
PsychoNauts 2
 
It seems like a safe bet. Psychonauts sold 1.7 million copies and did extremely well. People have been begging for Psychonauts 2 since the first one was released. Psychonauts 2 is bound to be a success, and yet the investment through this crowdfunding platform is a bad one. In basic terms, when investing in Psychonauts 2 you will break even if it sells 700,000 units, and make a profit at sales after this. Double Fine compares this to the sales of the original Psychonauts to show that this is a good investment. However, Psychonauts and Psychonauts 2 are very different things. 
 
For starters, Psychonauts wasn’t crowdfunded. We have to deal in a little guesswork here as the crowdfunding doesn’t end until January, but Psychonauts 2 is currently around 15,000 backers. If we compare this to Broken Age which had around 90,000 backers and Massive Chalice which saw over 30,000 backers, we can take a guess at how the campaign for Psychonauts 2 will turn out. It is a far more sought after game than their previous two new IPs, but gamers have begun to distrust Schafer after the complete overspend on Broken Age and Spacebase DF-9, which was sold as Early Access and then abandoned. Still, an estimate of 30,000 – 40,000 backers seems a reasonable one, and these make up Psychonauts’ key fan base, the first day purchasers. By the time Psychonauts 2 is released its 30,000 – 40,000 biggest fans would have already purchased it, and yet will not make up any of the 700,000 units sales investors need to break even.
 
Psychonauts 2
 
While I don’t doubt that Psychonauts did sell 1.7 million units, we have to remember that this was over 10 years. 700,000 of these came from Humble Bundle sales, which come with a variable price and are often only implemented late into a games life. In the first 5 years of Psychonauts it sold just 500,000 units, and while it was admittedly an XBOX exclusive, and Psychonauts 2 will likely sell better, if the development cycle is to be believed (which they often aren’t), we are looking at approximately an 8 year wait for returns on investments.
 
Then of course there is the Broken Age comparison.
 
I reached out to both Double Fine and Greg Rice on Twitter asking for the number of units Broken Age sold, and while they are yet to get back to me and vague on their forums, we have to return to guesswork. Steamspy (which is admittedly not 100% reliable) puts Steam units at around 300,000—90,000 of these are presumably backers. Broken Age also sold on other platforms such as Android, iOS, PS4, PS Vita and physical copies but these are all no where near as lucrative as Steam—Android downloads stand at around 1,000, PS4 sales were just 4,000 at launch. Seeing as I don’t have all the figures at hand, and as Double Fine games tend to sell well throughout their lives, I am very generously willing to estimate Broken Age unit sales at around 250,000 – 300,000 post-backer. This is 2 years after the release of Act 1 and foreshadows a dim outlook for investors of Psychonauts 2.
 
While I may sound contrary, I actually want people to back Psychonauts 2. If you are a Double Fine or a Psychonauts fan, $39 is a fair price for both series titles, and I very much believe that Tim Schafer and Double Fine will deliver on their promises by 2018/2019. I love Double Fine, I love Psychonauts, but I love gamers more, and I don’t want any of them to be burnt by what should be a good investment but is in reality a very, very bad one. Unless of course you are the kind of person willing to wait a decade in order to see profits.
 
tim schafer
 

Georgina Young

Contributor

British girl, currently in Japan. Surviving on a diet of retro games. Worshiping the god that is the Sega Megadrive. I like Nintendo.



  • Yeah… that’s an interesting take on Fig’s first project of this magnitude. We rag on publishers for not supporting the titles that don’t have mainstream appeal and now the shoe is on the other hand. It may be that a game like Psychonauts 2 isn’t so financially viable after all, and some could walk away disappointed if they’re even partially approaching it as an investor with the intention of turning a profit.

    Then again maybe nobody actually cares. I think most are solely in it to get Psychonauts 2 made.

  • Do NOT give Tim Schafer your money. Broken Age was a broken game, made for five year olds. Schafer fleeced people for even more money after he proved that he can’t handle money. It’s abundantly clear that his ego got in the way of the project, and he had to have the game be what he wanted, or nothing at all. Not to mention it’s clear that anyone at his studio is a yes-man/woman to him. It’s like George Lucas with the prequels. With how shady this latest project is being, with only people who contribute a certain amount of money being able to talk on the forums, I say screw this guy. Anyone who gives money to this has-been deserves to be ripped off.

  • Serathis

    … because Tim lost all our goodwill. Shame really.

  • Pedro Henrique Ribeiro

    Tim Schaffer bit the hand that fed him…

    You can be a competent professional, a genius and all that, BUT when you become a complete asshole, smearing the reputation of people who buy your stuff, you’re just another piece of shit.

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    I’m not backing the game because I don’t trust Schafer…and from his behavior of the past couple years, I don’t like him, either.

    I loved Psychonauts but not with a blind love to make me open my wallet again.

  • ParasiteX

    Investing in a Tim Schafer game is great, if you love watching money getting sucked into a black hole of nothingness.

  • Galbador

    Even though I (was) a fan of the first Psychonaut because of the character design, I will not support this for one reason; Tim Schafer. This guy attacked us gamers and how he comes crawling on his knees and begs for money? How says that he will hold his word like he did for Broken Age or DFAF? Sadly as it is, this guy has no idea how to handle funds to make a game. Instead of that, he just guesses and says “Welp… 1 mil will do the job” while in fact he needs more than 5 mil to complete the game.

    I feel sorry for Double Fine, because they made some great games like Psychonaut or Brütal Legend, which had one flaw in my view… A DAMN CLIFFHANGER!!! But making a second game would be too expensive, just like for Psychonauts. We remember when Notch tried to get Tim to make part 2 but then pull his offer. Back then, I thought why Notch even tried to do this, but nowadays I’m damn happy about it. Tim should not get support from anyone, because all he does, is living in his delusional world and pretending that he can handle everything, while the ship is sinking on top of a lava spitting volcano.

    Again, as much as I loved Double Fine and would so damn much love to play Psychonauts 2 or Brütal Legend 2, THIS GUY… Tim Schafer… kill this fun for me by being who he is; a dreamer, who can’t handle finacial work and attack gamers wherever he can.

  • Joseph Fanning

    Few issues…
    1) Tim Schafer is not a competent producer. Psychonauts was overbudget and sold very poorly. The 400,000 (not 500K, according to wikipedia) sales was from its release to 2010, only about 100K of that was during its initial release, meaning that 75% of the console sales of the game were likely at a deep discount. The game was cited as the reason Majesco stopped trying to compete as a AAA dev. Brutal Legend was somehow a WORSE hit on Schafer’s credibility in the games industry, as after that no one would publish him at all and he famously turned to crowdfunding for his hobby of disappointing others.

    2) His kickstarter failures are vastly underplayed here. Broken Age, even after making over 8x his asking price from crowdfunding, needed outside investment to make HALF a game. The second half was a massive disappointment to anyone who was expecting a finished game, and the less said about Spacebase DF-9, the better. (“Meh, we’re done. You assholes think it’s so easy to finish a game, then YOU do it!”)

    3) Fig is a scam. It’s in the terms of service. Check them out sometime, they so much as state that investors should be prepared to see anything they put in go down the drain, while backers should consider anything they send a donation and not expect to actually ever get the rewards they’re promised. It’s pretty clear that Schafer created Fig as a way of bypassing Kickstarter’s “Finish what you start or pay the backers back” policy. Their investors page is just as bad, with a huge infographic full of half-truths and trying to obscure the fact that Psychonauts was an absolute financial disaster.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    Brutal Legend was a worse hit to his credibility because not only did he fail at all metrics of reasonable development, according to Bobby (fucking) Kotick, but because he never even secured the rights needed, so the last half of the game was rushed hard to push it out for sales before an expensive legal battle could lock it down.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    If it was someone who actually had the pedigree of getting projects done right and on time, people would be dropping dough everywhere to get this done. This is Tim (fucking) Schafer, though.

  • Cari

    Notch said 5* days ago he was backing but didn’t have the nerve to invest: https://archive.is/LaHtm

    *edit- i can’t count

  • peori

    Which is saying a lot for someone who could afford to buy enough bubble bath to throw a foam party in the ocean and not notice he’d spent any money.

  • Amazing ThetaMan

    I want Psychonauts 2, it’s just that DoubleFine has shown itself to be fiscally irresponsible on multiply occasions, at this point it’s practically Tim Schafer’s calling card.

    if I buy, I’ll be buying after it’s complete and the reviews are in.

  • Robert Grosso

    So who has that pedigree of getting games done both right, and on time?

    And what dictates right and on time as well?

    Look, we all know Schafer is a poor manager and it shows. All this is from Fig, in the end, is a risk; it is literally an investment that is on the onus of the investors to track. The investors just so happen to be the general public too it seems.

    If Schafer is smart he will hire a project manager that can make sure the game is on schedule and on time. That way it will remove the anxieties over any possible mismanagement.

    But we simply don’t know I guess. Maybe that is the point going in; were taking that risk now, do we trust Double Fine to deliver on their promises?

  • Cyber Ninja

    “…500,000 units, and while it was admittedly an XBOX exclusive” It wasn’t an Xbox exclusive it was released on PS2 and PC the same year.

  • SevTheBear

    This proof once again that people throwing money at Schafer without question are morons. Why does (almost) nobody check or research devs or publishers before they hand over they money to them is beyond me.

    It’s no wonder we keep getting mediocre games all the time. Many people don’t vote with their wallets and are just buying whatever crap that gets pumped out every year. Well I guess it true what they say… the last idiots ain’t born yet

  • Kain Yusanagi

    On time is dictated by keeping to planned release date. Generally investors can put pressure on a dev who is taking too long, in their approximation (a couple years, generally). Doing them right would be not throwing money away making half a game. Would mean not making the framework for a good game that is buggy and glitchy, promise you won’t abandon it to drive sales, then promptly do just that, leaving customers with a glitchy, broken shell of a game that could have been great. Would mean not selling a game as a remastered re-release (at a fairly high price for what it is, $15) when you’ve literally only updated a quarter of the game. Would mean not having ANYTHING to do with the running of the platform (Fig) when pitching his own game through it because that’s a MASSIVE conflict of interest.

  • Dima Wisotski

    “So who has that pedigree of getting games done both right, and on time?”

    “On time” part is not that relevant – games being delayed for additional polish is always reasonable, and understood by gamers. There is a small vocal minority consisting of impatient children who get mad, but I rather prefer my games to be good, than to be on time and broken.

    “Done right” – now that is the key. Tim Schafer latest projects are all went to shit. That space base management game – was abandoned before it was finished. Broken age….yeah.

    inXile, Obsidian, Frontier – those are the studios who did the crowdfunding thing, and delivered. If Brian Fargo comes out, and asks for my money to make something – I will give him the money, no question asked, because that guy earned the trust. Tim Schafer – why the heck people even trusted him in the first place? Yeah, he was involved in development of some great games – and he never passes an opportunity to remind us of the fact, which makes him a prick above anything else, because games are not 1-man buisness. But even then – managing a development of a game is quite different from being a part of the team that developed the game. And Schafer screwed up every single project he managed. Every. Single. One. Was late, overbudget, with features and end-content cut out at the last minute (Brutal Legend for example, late, overbudget, ending sucks because they had to wrap it up).

    Bobby Kotick was 100% right. And all the hipsters standing with Schafer bashing Activision during that debacle – are pathetic.

  • Ricolfus

    Since when did we need a reason for not wanting to throw money at something? I thought that people had decided that you needed a reason *to* use your money.

  • Pesty

    To paraphrase: “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘Bobby (fucking) Kotick was right again.”

  • Tomgamesalot

    I wouldn’t trust Double Fine any more than EA, both are terrible companies that deserve nothing more than complete bankruptcy. I say this as a Kickstarter backer of both Massive Chalice and Broken Age. Tim Schafer has proven again and again he has no clue how to manage even basic projects, and views his fans as nothing more than endless money bins. Well I’ve been burned enough by this lackluster company. I know Psychonauts 2 will most likely succeed, but it won’t be fueled by my money.

  • Robert Grosso

    It’s a strange day when people are saying the CEO from a mediocre company is right about something….when five years ago the majority of the people on here were out there bashing that said company for pulling the plug on Brutal Legend.

    The irony is interesting….