A new wave of boutique publishers is helping indies create better games.
In 2008, Vivendi, the parent company of Sierra Entertainment, merged with game publisher Activision. The result was a new, monolithic corporation called Activision Blizzard, that was now home to some of the biggest games in the world, like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. At the time, Sierra had a number of upcoming games on its slate, including an exciting heavy-metal adventure from Double Fine, the studio of game design legend Tim Schafer. The game was called Brutal Legend, and it starred Jack Black in the lead role. It was also one of many games to be canceled following the merger. What followed was a protracted process in which EA signed on to publish the game instead, only for Activision to sue Double Fine, followed by Double Fine filing a countersuit. During the toughest moments of game development, those last desperate months when the small details finally come together, Schafer and his team were distracted by legal matters.