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Actually, I think it might have been a Furby, not a Kitten

Not that I would ever be narcissistic enough to sit around and read my own press, BUT last night while I was reading up on my favorite brewchef, I accidentally stumbled upon a headline that said, roughly, “Tim Schafer Says you Shouldn’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head About Sales.”

And I was like, man, that brewchef sounds a little patronizing. But I also realized that some people might think that post was about me! So just to be safe I thought I would clarify my position on the matter.

I think games sales matter a lot. I just think that the people who should worry about sales are the people who have vested financial interest in a game.  If your money or livelihood is dependent on a game, then you should concern yourself with its sales. But if it isn’t, then you should try to relax and just enjoy playing them.

“But,” you say, “If people don’t buy the game I love, then there won’t be any more games like it!”

I’m saying that’s just not true. You’re not hoping for some game that’s superficially like the one you just played, right? What you want is another great game. If a game is a huge hit, yes, there will be a lot of imitators. And those imitators will get green-lit quickly. But those kinds of games are rarely great. So who cares? Who wants that? Great games don’t come from that sort of imitation. They come from people working on an idea they care about.

Another thing that brewchef must have said was that all you have to do is make a cool game. What I hope I would have said is that as long as you make a GREAT game, people will want to talk to you. That doesn’t mean people will automatically want to publish you. Just that they’ll talk to you.

Story time!

Around 1992, I felt like SCUMM games were getting the short end of the stick at LucasArts in many ways. Management didn’t seem to like them, and in fact seemed to want to sweep them out the door. So I went into the General Manager’s office in my flannel shirt and Eddie Vedder hair and I asked him, “Are you trying to shut down SCUMM games?”

He was surprised enough to put down the tiny kitten he was strangling and look me in the eyes. “Listen,” he said, “As long as there are people at this company who want to make SCUMM games, we’ll make them.”

I was totally surprised, and a little suspicious. Could it really be up to the developers to pick what games get made? Do they really have that much power? I think the Sam and Max 2 team might take issue with what he was saying. But then again, getting cancelled didn’t stop that team. They left to start their own company and made their game in the end. So I think a more true version of that statement would be, “As long as there are people who want to make that kind of game, that kind of game will be made.”

And that’s why, unless it’s your money on the line, game sales don’t need to keep you up at night. The market and game executives do not dictate what games get made—They just dictate what gets made easily. They affect what can be made without a fight. As long as there are creative people out there willing to fight for ideas they care about, then there is nothing that the market or anyone else can do to stop them.

Now please enjoy my recipe for North Carolina Style Pulled Pork.

04/07/2009 - 04:35 PM
04/07/09 - 06:24 PM

"So true... Originality is forsaken in a world where people don't truly know what they want. When a great game is made, we don't want another one like it in regards to story ad gameplay, but in regards to greatness. Sequels and such can be good, but they often run a concept dry. Look at Katamari Damacy. The first couple games were good, but what could you do after that besides rehash the same game with a couple different color schemes? We should let games be original, reflections of the different authors rather than clones of a single person's desire. I may have to try that pork recipe sometime, but today's Taco nigh!."
04/07/09 - 06:57 PM

""Tim Schafer, The Brew Chef™, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Tim Schafer owns Tim Schafer’s at Lake Norman in Sherrills Ford, NC. Both serve beer enhanced creative American fare. Tim is currently working on his first cookbook featuring many of his popular beer enhanced dishes." Aha!"
04/07/09 - 08:41 PM
A Schafer created character name:

"But what if I need the game to make a huge pile of money so that there would be a position for me open up at Double Fine? So can I stay awake at night thinking about that?"
04/07/09 - 09:04 PM

"Yeah, I've been wondering how your stockholders were feeling after they'd read that news. Thanks for clearing-up. Also, game journalists? More professionalism, please. As a wise man once said, "Report news accurately, not sensationally.""
04/07/09 - 09:27 PM

"Awww, you posted that recipe on my birthday. How nice of you. And I didn't get you anything for your birthday :( This year I'll make sure to give you my recipe for steak and guinnes pie."
04/07/09 - 10:55 PM

"Reading about games on MTV is like reading about games in Entertainment Weekly. I don't know that I would vest as much interest in believing the writer of the article had wrote since it is not about Music or Movies since that is what editors for MTV are most commonly known for. I believe that many folks would read this and not take it seriously unless it was written by credited publications such as IGN, GameSpot, TeamXbox, GamesRadar, OXM, 1UP, EDGE, GiantBomb, or other gaming publications with editors whom are familiar with gaming or game related people such as yourself. This was a very interesting and encouraging perspective on how fans should be concerned more with creativity than sales. I enjoyed reading this very much Tim. It seemed more serious than the usual Double Fine Action News and is great to know how you felt about this sort of thing from your point of view. Mmmmm... BBQ."
04/07/09 - 11:07 PM

"Wow yer something Tim, you can make beer and games what a guy."
04/07/09 - 11:30 PM
Zacqary Adam Green:

"For the record, Tim, I've always worried about the sales of games like Grim and Psychonauts not because I want to see imitators, but I want to see more games from you. After Psychonauts didn't do well (which was Majesco's fault, I could've marketed that game better in my sleep), I was afraid that nobody would give you funding to make and release the awesomeness that is Brütal Legend. Obviously, those fears were unfounded, and even if they were, I'm sure you'd still manage something amazing with a limited budget and distribute it on Steam. And then there'd be a PC version too. And maybe a Mac version because indie developers make half their money from game-starved Mac users. And actually that doesn't sound too bad. Is there anything you can do to piss off EA enough so that Brütal Legend will lose a publisher again and you'll have to self-publish it for the Mac? I'm kidding, obviously, slightly."
04/08/09 - 05:27 AM

"Are you also related to Paul Schafer from the CBS orchestra on David Letterman?"
04/08/09 - 05:36 AM

04/08/09 - 06:55 AM
Mr. Burger:

"i just had a really longly long and creatively vacuous day and a half. hyperbolic though it may look to read at, i remember yesterday morning about as distinctly as i remember my entire past (i.e., the whole unified temporal entity). so i thought i'd post a little bit of flatterly gratitude, 'cause, despite my cognitive faculties being all sore and sleepless and feeling sort of like they've been very feelably hyperextended about their socket(s)--that is, despite my feeling like an irritable crankasaurus--this particular action news update reads like plain and unabatable genius. catharsis."
04/08/09 - 07:18 AM

"It's nice that you can have your own word here :) !"
04/08/09 - 11:10 AM

"I would like to note that while I appreciate your thoughts, *I*certainly don't care about sales figures. Obviously, the companies do, but I don't gauge what games I buy based on what *other* people buy. I buy what I trust. Case in point, I've glossed-over Resident Evil 5 and I'm still downloading new DLC for Rock Band 2, and I buy a lot of off-beat quirky games like Phoenix Wright and Dokapon Kingdom. Actually, I just put down a pre-order for Brutal Legend yesterday. I had to; it's one of the few games that I'm genuinely excited to play. After going through Psychonauts I can't wait to see more great Schafer humour!"
04/09/09 - 10:46 AM

"I'm sorry but I have to disagree. As an artist, I see and miss all types of artistic styles. Todays Mario, Sonic, Final Fantasy is not an "upgrade" to me - it's a whole different piece of work. I don't get the same feeling playing today's versions of games than yesterday's. So generalizing the feeling of satisfaction of a sequel to the extremes of allowing myself to be happy with another game that is similar in concept just doesn't cut it - because I miss the old style already. And game sales affect that, unfortunately."
04/12/09 - 05:25 PM
Mr. Burger:

"Capitalist culture makes "living in the moment" a thing of the past, a foolhardy solipsism reserved for children. Sigh. Today's games will be yesterday's soon enough. Why there should be any difference is a mystery that has bungled brilliant minds since the dawn of worthwhile literature."
04/14/09 - 01:14 PM

"I don't want to make this sound like everything before this post was any less fantastic, but this is the kind of stuff I love to read. Wigs on the street and rat fights are fine, but this...this stuff is MEATY! Speaking of meat...when is the Double Fine Restaurant opening? I'd like a Brütal Burger with a Razberry Soda, please!"
04/19/09 - 02:29 AM
Cyclone of Mystery:

"If he was strangling a Furby, then God Bless Him. Those beasts are evil."
04/26/09 - 11:25 PM

"You haven't posted a new blog in ages. What gives?"
04/26/09 - 11:26 PM

"^Posted that on the wrong blog... But still."
07/26/09 - 02:11 PM

"I was sixteen when Psychonauts came out, and yet refused to buy another game until I found a copy. I eventually did, after berating megastore after megastore for not having any copies. It was in a dented box at the bottom of a bargain bin in a small video store in a mall across the country. I hope it doesn't pain you to hear of how poorly it was treated, but I took it home and loved it dearly. It's pretty obvious from these comments that it's not just up to the makers. Good, fun, original games will always be in demand."
03/27/15 - 08:08 AM
Darwin Larry:

"I finally found someone to smart custom writing but the system they did?! Wow! I introduce want I had at minimal attempted to do it myself. I consult from here on I either do it myself or find a advantage that is efficient to help."
06/03/15 - 03:54 AM
Micheal Elijah:

"Furby is one wistful kitty! He seem like academic writing services company online he is directly off a coldness wonderland postcard and not a tresses elsewhere of situate."
08/05/15 - 11:05 AM
Darwin Larry:

"As i browse an important discuss probably ones own blogging at which a friend or relative was ready for a powerful rushessay reviews. I was not aware such a thing existed. Though I understand how this would be needed seeing as how some essays are context oriented. This would mean that for one to write about Australia, they would need to understand the region. ."
09/06/15 - 08:00 PM
James 33:

"Eu venho do Pulau Tidung e eu deveras gosta de jogar jogos, em especial uma vez que os jogos do guerra. Minha casa foi um lugar turístico que torna cada vez mais lotados com os visitantes turnê quando eu jogar jogos. Para aqueles de vocês que querem saber mais detalhes onde eu vivo o visitante pode ler o meu artigo intitulado Pulau Pari"
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