DoubleFine Productions' ambitious platform title Psychonauts will no longer be published by Microsoft Game Studios, the Xbox platform holder has confirmed to the press this week.
DoubleFine, which was founded by LucasArts adventure genius Tim Schafer, is currently shopping around for a new publisher, with several firms reportedly interested. Although the game is no longer expected to hit its late 2004 release target, it is far enough along to suggest that DoubleFine may stick to Xbox only rather than bringing the game to other platforms.
Nevertheless it's good to hear that publishers are interested in Psychonauts, because every time we've seen or heard Tim Schafer discuss the game he's always made a whole lot of sense. In fact we're a little surprised to see Microsoft let him go so easily.
Then again, after several of its other more abstract titles - Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Voodoo Vince to name a couple - failed to do the business at retail, it's possible that the publisher has simply decided to take a more risk-averse approach to its first-party line-up.
That would certainly explain some of its recent actions, like severing publishing ties with Oddworld Inhabitants on Stranger, and holding back a number of key XSN Sports titles in order to better compete with rival titles from EA Sports and Sega/ESPN.
It would also explain why the company is willing to end its publishing agreement with DoubleFine despite claiming that it still "believes in the vision of the title" in an official statement. Like Tiwak's Tork, which MS terminated last year, the publisher is also " supporting Tim Schafer and DoubleFine in their search for a new publisher."
The game, in which players control a psychic named Raz as he physically journeys through the minds of psychiatric patients, appeared on video at the recent Game Developers Conference in San Jose, and is expected to be at E3 this year in playable form regardless of whether it finds a publisher by then.