To say that Psychonauts had a storied development would be kind of an understatement. What started out in the wild world of the classic LucasArts title Full Throttle expanded, nearly died and was revived again by the hands of one man. Tim Schafer. What became Psychonauts was originally to be a drug filled romp through fantasy land for the main protagonist in Full Throttle. LucasArts couldn’t stand for that and the segment was dropped but Tim Schafer wouldn’t let it go- later this sequence was fleshed out and became Psychonauts. Too bad gamers didn’t have as much dedication to quality releases of the time.
Interestingly, during the time leading up to the release of Psychonauts, Microsoft was eyeing it for exclusive status on their Xbox console. At some point the people in charge decided the head rolling antics of Sega of old were pretty cool so they let Ed Fries, the man really making these decisions, go abruptly out the exit. It is not clear what happened afterwards (probably some lawyers are involved somewhere) but this console exclusivity was as much a dream as the original concept for Psychonauts was. Not to be held down, Tim Schafer was able to negotiate a deal with the “no clue how to handle a quality game right” Majesco. This deal with Majesco opened up porting Pschonauts to the Xbox competitor (and console holding the proverbial paddle board) the Sony Playstation 2.
Psychonauts has seen release on Windows (alongside the Xbox original version), the Playstation 2 (in June of 2005) and more recently on Steam and Gametap (remember that one?) and the Macintosh OSX platform. Not bad for a game that just wouldn’t die due to the dedication of its creator.
Over the following seven years Psychonauts would go on to sell around 400,000 copies at retail (Xbox, PS2, Windows) which is horrible. That is about 57,000 copies a year or less than 5,000 copies per month. The fans failed Psychonauts. With the release on Steam an Xbox Live though, things have turned around. Maybe it was a case of just not being where the gamers were? No one knows for sure. We do know here at Retro Gaming Magazine, we are thankful that Tim Schafer didn’t give up and kept fighting. Thank you.