|Jam Software (1984–89)|
|Subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment|
|Founded||September 27, 1984|
|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California, United States|
|Services||Video game development|
Number of employees
Naughty Dog, LLC (formerly known as Jam Software before renaming in 1989) is an American video game developer based in Santa Monica, California. Founded by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin in 1984 as an independent developer, the studio was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2001. Gavin and Rubin produced a sequence of progressively more successful games, including Rings of Power and Way of the Warrior in the early 1990s. The latter – a very low-budget but still plausible offering – prompted Universal Interactive Studios to sign the duo to a three-title contract and fund the expansion of the company.
Longtime American game designer and producer Mark Cerny convinced Naughty Dog to focus its new resources on creating a character-based platform game that would fully exploit the 3D capabilities of the new systems. Ultimately, this led to the release of Crash Bandicoot for the PlayStation in 1996. Naughty Dog developed three Crash Bandicoot sequels over the next several years. After developing Crash Team Racing, the company began working on Jak and Daxter for the PlayStation 2.
In 2004, Rubin, who had become the company's president, left the company to work on a new project named Iron and the Maiden. In addition to their inhouse game team, Naughty Dog is also home to the ICE Team, one of SIE Worldwide Studios's central technology groups. The company's first PlayStation 3 title, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, was released in 2007, with the series tetralogy being completed by 2016.
Naughty Dog was known for having a history of developing one game at a time, and also one franchise per console; a controversial trend that was criticized by fans. This lasted until Naughty Dog announced a new intellectual property for the PlayStation 3 called The Last of Us, which was in development by a secondary team at the studio and released in 2013 to universal acclaim, being called by critics to be one of the greatest games of all time.
High school students Jason Rubin and Andy Gavin, having experimented with Lisp and C++, teamed up to create video games and founded "Jam Software" in 1984. Rubin and Gavin chose to create software for the Apple II and decided to create a skiing game for their second title. During production of the game, Gavin accidentally copied bootleg games over the only copy of the skiing game they had. Rubin then created a new skiing game called Ski Crazed (originally titled Ski Stud) within the weekend. Because the game played slowly, Gavin reprogrammed the game to play quicker. The game was later picked up and published by Baudville, who bought the game from Jam Software for $250. Rubin and Gavin created an Apple IIGS graphic adventure game titled Dream Zone, which was released in 1988 and ported to the Atari ST, Amiga and personal computer.
In 1989, Rubin and Gavin released a game titled Keef the Thief, which was published by Electronic Arts for the Apple IIGS, Amiga and IBM PC Compatible. To make a fresh start and to dissolve their relationship with Baudville, Rubin and Gavin renamed Jam Software as Naughty Dog on September 9, 1989. Naughty Dog also created and developed Rings of Power, which was published by Electronic Arts for the Sega Genesis in 1991. Rubin and Gavin were joined on the title by programmer Vijay Pande, who would later become better known for orchestrating the distributed computing disease researching project known as Folding@home at Stanford University.
In 1994, Rubin and Gavin produced the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer title Way of the Warrior and presented it to Mark Cerny of Universal Interactive Studios. Cerny was pleased with Way of the Warrior and signed Naughty Dog on to Universal Interactive Studios for three additional games. Rubin and Gavin devised a plan to create a three-dimensional action-platform game. Because the player would be forced to constantly look at the character's rear, the game was jokingly codenamed "Sonic's Ass Game".
Production of the game began in 1994, during which Naughty Dog expanded its number of employees and invented a development tool called "Goal Oriented Object LISP", to create the characters and gameplay. Cartoonists Charles Zembillas and Joe Pearson were recruited to create the characters of the game, which resulted in the titular character Crash Bandicoot. After 14 months of development, the game was shown to Sony Computer Entertainment, who then signed on to publish the game. Crash Bandicoot was shown to the public for the first time at E3 and went on to become one of the highest-selling titles for the PlayStation console, selling over 6.8 million copies.
Naughty Dog continued to develop two more Crash Bandicoot games, with a spin-off Crash Team Racing kart racing game. By then the studio was looking to develop games for Sony and not be constrained by Universal Interactive. Since Universal held the rights to the Crash Bandicoot series, Naughty Dog could not develop future games in its own right. The studio would be bought out by Sony to avoid a repeat while it focused on developing the first game of the Jak and Daxter series. The Jak and Daxter games met similar success as the Crash Bandicoot games. During the development of Jak 3 and Jak X: Combat Racing games, Rubin and Gavin slowly transitioned Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra to become co-presidents of Naughty Dog by the time the founders left the studio.
Starting in 2007, Naughty Dog began worked on the Uncharted series, and made their first approach to realistic worlds and characters, in contrast to their Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series, which featured fantastical worlds set in a fictional setting. The Uncharted franchise has been praised for its cinematic quality and technical proficiency, and has sold nearly 17 million copies worldwide as of April 2012.
During the 2011 Spike TV Video Game Awards, Naughty Dog unveiled a new intellectual property, The Last of Us, described as a "post-apocalyptic third-person action-adventure game", following the plight of a teenage girl, Ellie, and her adult protector, Joel, in a post-apocalyptic United States overrun with humans infected with a disease reminiscent of the infection caused by Cordyceps unilateralis. The Last of Us received universal acclaim upon release.
In 2012 and 2013, Naughty Dog teamed with Mass Media Inc. to release the Jak and Daxter Collection. The collection contains high-definition ports of the original PlayStation 2 trilogy and was released for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita respectively.
On November 14, 2013, during the PS4 All Access Launch Event on Spike, Naughty Dog revealed two teaser trailers. The first unveils The Last of Us' single-player DLC (a first for Naughty Dog), Left Behind, starring Ellie and Riley, a girl that she met during the events of the American Dreams prequel comic series. The second teaser revealed the studio's first PlayStation 4 title, the next installment of Uncharted, making the series their first IP to sprawl across two home console generations (excluding HD remakes).
On November 23, 2013, Corrinne Yu, principal engine architect at Microsoft's Halo 4 developer 343 Industries, announced that she had joined Naughty Dog. On December 7, 2013, during the first edition of Spike's VGX award show, Naughty Dog won the Studio of the Year award for their work on The Last of Us.
On March 4, 2014, Uncharted lead writer Amy Hennig left the studio, with Uncharted 3 director Justin Richmond and The Last of Us lead artist Nate Wells leaving soon after. Later, it was revealed that The Last of Us would be released on the PlayStation 4 as a remastered version.
Naughty Dog is known for its unique way of handling game development, as the studio doesn't have a producer in either of their teams. The work culture at Naughty Dog is very different to many other studios; there is less middle-management; the studio's lead effects artist, Keith Guerrette, said: "It comes with a lot of pros and cons but I think it definitely is one of our biggest strengths. Looking around at the rest of the industry, and this is something that we do talk about quite a bit, the companies that are doing really innovative, cool things are all the ones that don't have the management, like the business side, directly injected into the company. Sony's put us in this fantastic situation where we don't have any producers; we don't have any interactions with Sony corporate at all on the development." Naughty Dog has also complete freedom in basically every aspect of game design, and that also means that Sony Computer Entertainment, the parent company, doesn't prevent the studio from any implementation of game elements.
Naughty Dog is home to the ICE Team, one of Sony's World Wide Studios central technology groups. The term ICE originally stands for Initiative for a Common Engine which describes the original purpose of the studio. The ICE Team focuses on creating core graphics technologies for Sony's worldwide first party published titles, including low level game engine components, graphics processing pipelines, supporting tools, and graphics profiling and debugging tools. The ICE Team also supports third party developers with a suite of engine components, and a graphics analysis, profiling, and debugging tool for the RSX. Both enable developers to get better performance out of PlayStation hardwares.
As a subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment, Naughty Dog are best known for developing games for the PlayStation family of consoles, including the Crash Bandicoot series for the original PlayStation, Jak and Daxter on PlayStation 2; Uncharted and The Last of Us on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Prior to this, they also developed games including Dream Zone, Keef the Thief, Rings of Power and Way of the Warrior.
Partnerships with other developers
Since working together in the same building on the Universal Interactive Studios backlot, Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games have had a close relationship. Producer Mark Cerny has worked extensively with both companies. They have made similar types of games. For example, in the late 1990s, Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot series and Insomniac's Spyro the Dragon series both competed on the PlayStation as character-heavy platforming games with imaginative environments. With the release of the PlayStation 2, the two series were left in Universal's hands, and both developers continued in friendly competition after the creation of their new flagship franchises (Jak and Daxter and Ratchet & Clank, respectively). In 2004, Vicarious Visions acknowledged the close ties between the Crash and Spyro franchises by developing the crossover games Crash Bandicoot Purple: Ripto's Rampage and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy.
With the release of the PlayStation 3, both developers changed focus, with Naughty Dog's action-adventure series Uncharted and Insomniac's science fiction first-person shooter series Resistance, although Insomniac continued to work on the Ratchet and Clank series. Both Naughty Dog and Insomniac have stated that they do not have plans for making a game together, even though, with Activision Blizzard holding the publishing rights to both the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon characters, there have been a pair of crossover games released between the two, while Sony released PlayStation Move Heroes and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, both PlayStation 3 games which featured characters created by both Naughty Dog and Insomniac in the same game as well as characters created by Sucker Punch Productions.
Ready at Dawn
Didier Malenfant, a former developer of Naughty Dog, left the company in 2003 to form a new development company, Ready at Dawn, with former members of Naughty Dog and Blizzard Entertainment. Additionally, Ready at Dawn developed Daxter for the PSP which was produced by Naughty Dog.
High Impact Games
Naughty Dog shared its library of assets to High Impact Games in order to develop Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier. The company is also made up of former members of Naughty Dog as well as former members of Insomniac Games.
Mass Media Games
- (2008) Winner – Seven World Records in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008
- (2009) Winner – D.I.C.E Award for Overall Game of the Year
- (2009) Winner – Spike Video Game Awards for Game of the Year
- (2010) Winner – Game Developers Choice Awards for Game of the Year
- (2013) Winner – Spike Video Game Awards for Studio of the Year
- (2013) Winner – BAFTA Video Games Awards for Best Game
- (2013) Winner – D.I.C.E Award for Overall Game of the Year
- (2013) Winner – D.I.C.E Award for Innovation in Gaming
- (2013) Winner – Game Developers Choice Awards for Game of the Year
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