Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson gained a lot of attention for his offer to chip in personal funds towards Psychonauts 2. The internet responded the way you'd expect for a dormant, cult-hit property, so Persson has taken to his blog to set reasonable expectations.
He says that he and Tim Schafer have only exchanged "a couple of e-mails" and might meet at the upcoming Game Developers Conference. He says that the budget for the game is three times higher than he though, and Double Fine will most likely be busy with its Kickstarter project for a while anyway.
"I would not be investing in this as a charity," he says. "It would be because I think the game would be profitable. And naturally, I wouldn't want to have any creative input in the game. It would be purely a high risk investment in a project I believe in." He also points out that other investors have expressed interest.
Persson says that this kind of investment would require a lot of discussion, but he says he has advisers to help him with that aspect. "All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don't decide to self fund a sequel by doing more crowd funding (which is honestly what I would've done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment."
He says his reasons for setting more realistic expectations is that he's "incredibly scared of the very real risk of people feeling let down just because I took a chance at something that doesn't end panning out." He jokes that if the deal doesn't work, he'll "just go into hiding for a few years."
Even if the investment is higher than expected, Persson seemed unphased by the dollar amount as of a few days ago. He said he "can do" $13 million if necessary. Whether this is ultimately determined as profitable, though, is unclear -- and with Double Fine focused on its adventure game, we might not know for quite a while.
Minecraft maker Notch has downplayed his potential funding of Psychonauts 2.
Notch set the internet alight after offered to fund the game in a tweet to Double Fine boss Tim Schafer.
Schafer later said it would cost at least $13 million to make the game, to which Notch apparently replied: "I can do that."
But now it appears as if Notch isn't sure the game's a goer.
In a blog post titled "Hype" the Mojang chief said Schafer's development budget estimation was three times higher than he expected.
"Tim and I haven't spoken much at all other than a couple of emails," he said. "We mentioned meeting at GDC, I hope that will happen. I assume Double Fine will be very busy for many months with the Kickstarter project.
"The budget for doing a Psychonauts 2 is three times higher than my initial impression. A couple of other parties have mentioned also being interested in investing in it. I would not be investing in this as a charity. It would be because I think the game would be profitable. And naturally, I wouldn't want to have any creative input in the game. It would be purely a high risk investment in a project I believe in."
Notch's mention of the Kickstarter project is in reference to Double Fine's hugely successful crowd-sourcing of funding for an adventure game.
Schafer raised $1 million in a day after setting a $400,000 target on Kickstarter. The total raised is now approaching $2 million.
This game, Notch believes, is of higher priority than any Psychonauts sequel.
"I have NO idea if this is actually going to happen," he said. "The Kickstarter stuff obviously changes the playing field a lot. Investing that incredibly high amount of money also requires a lot of planning and discussion, and I've never done anything like that before, but I do have contacts and advisors to help me out.
"All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don't decide to self-fund a sequel by doing more crowd-funding (which is honestly what I would've done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment."
Notch called for calm: "Point is, stop hyping over this, internet! You're going to scare me into doing things secretly instead of being open and transparent via Twitter. I am incredibly scared of the very real risk of people feeling let down just because I took a chance at something that doesn't end up panning out.
"Also, I realize you won't stop hyping, so I'll just go into hiding for a few years if it falls through."
A Tweeted offer to back a sequel to Tim Schafer's cult favorite Psychonauts was "a semi-joke," said Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft and a guy who's not hard up for cash in light of that game's success. Notch rattled off a host of reasons why we shouldn't get our hopes up, especially the cost of the project.
"The budget for doing a Psychonauts 2 is three times higher than my initial impression, Notch wrote on his personal blog today in a post titled "Hype!" He also assumes (rightly, one thinks) that Schafer's Double Fine studio will be tied up with the Kickstarter project, which has raised $1.8 million in about a week.
"Tim and I haven't spoken much at all other than a couple of emails," Notch wrote. Also "a couple of other parties have mentioned also being interested in investing in it."
In one of those conversations, Schafer told Kotaku that he informed Notch the original Psychonauts budget was $13 million. It released in 2005. "I was like, 'I don't think you can make [it] for a million dollars,'" Schafer says he told Notch. Yet, "as soon as I mentioned the amount of money he said, 'Yeah, I can do that.'"
Evidently that figure moved up to about $40 million. That's not to say Notch hasn't seriously thought about it—he has, to the extent that he would be very specific about his reasons for doing so. "I would not be investing in this as a charity. It would be because I think the game would be profitable," he said. "And naturally, I wouldn't want to have any creative input in the game. It would be purely a high-risk investment in a project I believe in.
"All I know is that IF the numbers work out and IF they still want to do it and IF they don't decide to self fund a sequel by doing more crowd funding (which is honestly what I would've done if I were them), I would be most interested in doing this type of investment," he said.
Hype! [The Word of Notch]
Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson is able to match Tim Schafer's $13 million Psychonauts 2 development budget valuation.
"I can do that," he told the Double Fine boss.
"I was like, 'I don't think you can make [it] for a million dollars'," Schafer told Kotaku.
"The original game was, I think, $13 million, I think you have to match the original game.
"As soon as I mentioned the amount of money he said, 'Yeah, I can do that.'"
It's unclear whether Notch is willing to invest the $13 million from his own bulging bank account or contribute a certain amount before helping raise investment from elsewhere.
Notch's millions were made off the back of the phenomenal success of sandbox creation game Minecraft.
At the time of publication, over 22 million people had registered to play and just shy of five million people bought the game.
Last week Notch shocked the gaming world and Schafer himself when he said on his Twitter page that he was willing to personally fund a sequel to Double Fine's cult classic Psychonauts.
Double Fine head Tim Schafer has continually stated he would like to develop a second Psychonauts game, but has been unable to secure publisher-funding to back the project.
"Let's make Psychonauts 2 happen," Notch tweeted to Schafer.
"Also, I'm serious."
Psychonauts was first released in 2005 to positive reviews but disappointing sales. Double Fine recovered the rights to the game's publishing proceeds last year. Since then, the digital PC version has been seen a substantial update via Steam, and a new Mac version has been launched.
Sure, Tim Schafer and Double Fine Productions are swimming in a boatload of Kickstarter'd funds for their upcoming adventure game. But, $1.7 million isn't enough to make a new Psychonauts game. How much would it take? The original game cost $13 million to make; a sequel would have to match the budget of its predecessor.
Minecraft creator Markus 'Notch' Persson has been sitting on a lot of cash since the runaway success of his blocky creation game. Notch offered to support a sequel, with the multi-million dollar sum no problem for the designer-turned-publisher. "Yeah, I can do that," he told Schafer.
"I feel like I was being proposed to on the jumbotron at the baseball game," Schafer recalled to Kotaku when describing Notch's original tweet offer.
While it seems like the pieces are falling in place, a sequel would still be years away. "These things take time to figure out--if they can be figured out--so please don't expect any Psychonauts 2 announcements any time soon," Schafer previously noted.
But what would a Psychonauts 2 be about? "We had a lot of plot elements that were backstory in that [first] game that we planned on revisiting in the future and tying it back in," Schafer told Kotaku. "We had a longer story arc planned for those characters."
With all the recent brouhaha over Tim Schafer, from his raising $1.75m in four days, to the suggestion that Notch might fund a Psychonauts sequel, it was unavoidable that I’d replay Psychonauts. The astonishing game is in my all-time top 10, and makes me want to hug the planet and have them see. When I’m done with the play through I’ll not be able to stop myself writing about it, but at this convenient midpoint I thought I’d pause to share the joy with you in the form of 38 screenshots. I implore you to buy Psychonauts. If you’ve never played it, it’s so much more than you could be expecting. It’s on Steam for £6 and Good Old Games for $10. Just look.
But then the man who made millions making Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson, offered, over Twitter, to "make Psychonauts 2 happen."
Tim Schafer, whose Double Fine Productions made the first beloved Psychonauts game told Notch he'd be into it, but it was going to be expensive.
"I was like, 'I don't think you can make [it] for a million dollars.' The original game was, I think, $13 million, I think you have to match the original game."
"As soon as I mentioned the amount of money he said, 'Yeah, I can do that.'"
Imagine if other rich people—say, any game publisher in the business in the last half-decade—had been as ready to make this game happen.
Tim Schafer has pitched Psychonauts 2 to big video game companies. He has pitched the sequel to a game that was canceled, revived and then earned raves when it finally came out in 2005. But no publisher ever bit. They thought it was too creative or too obscure.
The failures frustrated Schafer, because Psychonauts, an adventure about a boy who can enter the minds of other colorful people and explore their thought-landscapes, wasn't supposed to be one-and-done.
"We had a lot of plot elements that were backstory in that [first] game that we planned on revisiting in the future and tying it back in," Schafer told me last week. "We had a longer story arc planned for those characters."
This is how he'd pitch the sequel to big game publishers: He'd show a 2010 fan trailer called Inceptionauts that mashed up the movie Inception and the first Psychonauts. "It's better than any trailer we ever had for the game," Schafer said. He says it even helped him remember how much he'd liked Psychonauts, which he had taken a break from thinking about after it came out. "It reminded me how much I like it," he said, adding that "I'd like to thank that fan for making the video. I used it to try to fund Psychonauts 2."
Schafer may have talked plot and setting to his potential Psychonauts 2 backers, but he demured from telling me how the new game would relate to the first, other than to tease that "I have ideas to take them to a more international setting."
He did, however, definitely talk to publisher suits about sales. "My pitch also involved how the game sold something like 400,000 copies initially. It wasn't enough for us to make money. But since then, through Steam and Good Old Games and all the places it's been, it's gotten in the hands of a lot of people." He recalls one day when a $2 Steam sale pushed Psychonauts even ahead of Call of Duty for revenue for that day. That, he remembers, was a good day.
None of this turned Psychonauts 2 into a real project scheduled to become a game you or I could play.
Then, on February 7, Notch Tweeted.
Schafer woke up to text messages from friends telling him to check Twitter. He thought he was being sued. No, the opposite. Someone wanted to give him money.
Soon, Notch and Schafer were talking.
"He said he had no idea it would get picked up like this. He said, 'Sorry for putting you on the spot, I didn't realize it would go so big.'
"I feel like I was being proposed to on the jumbotron at the baseball game."
Schafer sounds like he wants to say yes, but negotiations between him and Notch remain private. (Notch and his team at Mojang didn't respond to requests for comment for this story.)
The man who oversaw the making of Psychonauts simply wants to work with the man who made Minecraft. "He's been pretty successful. And, when you look into it, it's a really inspiring story. He's just a regular guy. He didn't do anything sleazy to get it. He just made it himself, distributed it himself, it's a great story. I think we have a lot to learn from him, so I'd like to do something with him.
"And I'd like to make Psychonauts 2."