Double Fine seeking Stacking, Costume Quest rights for 'emotional attachment,' says Tim Schafer

Double Fine wants to acquire the distribution rights for Costume Quest and Stacking, not just for business reasons, but more importantly, because the company has an "emotional attachment" to the games, studio head Tim Schafer told Polygon this weekend.

THQ published Costume Quest (2010) and Stacking (2011), and retained the distribution rights to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade versions of the titles. In a brief interview after giving the closing keynote at the inaugural Twofivesix conference, Schafer confirmed that Double Fine attempted to pick up the rights from the now-bankrupt publisher; the studio told Polygon in February that it was "optimistic" about doing so.

However, the rights went to Nordic Games last month when the company acquired almost all of the THQ intellectual property that was up for bidding in the defunct publisher's second bankruptcy auction — including the Darksiders and Red Faction franchises — for $4.9 million. That means that Nordic currently receives distribution-related royalties from sales of Stacking and Costume Quest. But the money isn't even Schafer's main concern.

"It's not, like, a lot of money; it's mostly for us to just tidy up things," said Schafer. "And also an emotional attachment — more of a mission of Double Fine to own everything that we make. It's, like, this loose end that kind of bothers me that we'd like to tie up."

Schafer noted that Double Fine owns the IP for both games, so the studio can move forward with future projects involving them if it so chooses. He declined comment when asked if Double Fine is currently in discussions with Nordic Games for the rights, but lamented that his studio's personal ties to the games leave it at a relative disadvantage in any negotiations that it might be undertaking.

"It's frustrating when something's really valuable to you for emotional reasons, and not that valuable to anyone else," he explained. "Because they can still say, 'Well, how much do you want it for?' and it's, like, 'Aw, you know this isn't valuable to you.' It's valuable to me, but not for business reasons, in a sense."

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