Any time there's a Steam sale "it's generating a bunch of money" for the developer, which helps them steer clear of bad publishing deals with "terrible recoup terms".
While revenue from the likes of Psychonauts in their back catalogue might not "be a blip on the radar" for larger companies, it's enough for Double Fine to explore ideas.
"Psychonauts has been out so long and developed such a cult following that every time there's a Steam sale it's generating a bunch of money for us," studio founder Tim Schafer told .
"The scale of those sales makes the most sense for a company of our size. It might not be a blip on the radar for a company like Microsoft or EA or a huge company like that, but, for us, it allows us to make a thriving business off of creative ideas and inspiration-driven development."
"We made more money off of Psychonauts in the last two years than we ever did before - mostly because we didn't have the publishing rights." Double Fine is no longer at the mercy of the old system of business.
"The old model is you pitch a game, you try to get as much money for it as you can for development," he explained. "You set aside some money in that budget for the time in between. You either go late or it takes longer than that to sign your next game. And so you use up all that money. And then you're back to zero."
"You have to take the next publishing deal that you can get," he continued. "And they're like, 'Well, it's got really terrible terms,' and we're like, 'We'll take it, we'll take it,' just to stay in business. We don't want to miss payroll. So we take it - and that one is the bad deal, which has terrible recoup terms" - and possibly lose control of their IP.
"But, at the end of it, we're back to zero again."
"Now that we have the publishing rights for those games back, they make us a lot of money that we used to invest back into Broken Age." Double Fine is taking a break from the usual development cycles because for these past two weeks they've held their Amnesia Fortnight game-jam, which concludes this weekend.
Aside from Broken Age, there's Massive Chalice in the works which is their second Kickstarter success.
Self-publishing keeps Double Fine afloat, Psychonauts sales 'a steady income'
27 February 2014 | By Simon Priest