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Doubleplusbad: Double Fine Layoffs

Grim news emerged from Double Fine at the tail-end of the week, when Tim Schafer confirmed to GamesIndustry.biz that the cancellation of an unannounced project has led to layoffs.

One of our unannounced projects was unexpectedly cancelled by its publisher, forcing us to reduce our staff by 12 people. Our remaining projects–Broken Age, Massive Chalice, and Grim Fandango Remastered, were unaffected…

That’s all the information we have and while there’ll be a brief attempt to squint between the lines below, first up are condolences and best wishes for the future to those affected.

All three titles still in production have been funded at least partly through external sources. Massive Chalice (Alec recently took a quaff) and Broken Age (Part 2’s script was completed in October) were both Kickstarter projects, and Sony supplied some of the cash for Grim Fandango Remastered. Along with what I’d consider their core output, Double Fine have been producing peripheral-based games over the last few years. These range from a Kinect-powered Sesame Street game to a robotic warfare prototype utilising the Leap Motion Controller. Given that the cancellation was on the publisher’s side rather than an internal decision, it’s possible that the unannounced project was along the lines of the former rather than an entirely internal creation.

As to whether or not there are other unannounced projects in development, the statement is slightly unclear. “One of our unannounced projects” would suggest that there are others but the list of “remaining projects” only contains the three we already know about. If there are other unannounced projects in development, they may be at the prototyping stage, with no committed team yet attached.

With the abrupt end of Spacebase DF-9 development still fresh in the mind, the last couple of months have been rough for Double Fine. But it’s not all bad news – Geoff Keighley’s Spike-free Game Awards’ nominations include Broken Age in the running for best indie game. What kind of hacks nominate an unfinished point and click adventure game for an award of any kind?

In other news, point and click Kickstarters continue to pull in the big bucks. Thimbleweed Park has more than three weeks on the clock and has already raised more than $350,000.

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