And the formula isn't very complicated
We're living in a time when the terms "AAA game" and "financial success" seem to practically be mutually exclusive. The list of titles that companies have deemed a commercial failure feels as if it's growing by the day. Due to inability to manage money, games are routinely trotted out with exorbitant sales goals in the mere hopes of breaking even.
Tim Schafer did a Reddit AMA and explained that Double Fine's approach is pretty much the exact opposite. When asked about the company's ability to stay relevant despite a lack of huge breakout games, Schafer said "Every game we've made at Double Fine has made a profit. We just haven't had a blockbuster yet. Luckily our business plan isn't dependent on blockbusters. You can make a lot of money off a game that sells less than that if you keep your costs down and plan ahead."
A company that properly budgets and doesn't spend money like it's going out of style has an easy time turning a profit and remaining financially viable? What a novel concept.
I am a Tim Schafer, AMA! [Reddit]