|Founded||2 May 1997|
Number of employees
Quantic Dream SA is a French video game developer and publisher based in Paris. Founded in May 1997, Quantic Dream has developed five video games: The Nomad Soul (1999), Fahrenheit (2005), Heavy Rain (2010), Beyond: Two Souls (2013), and Detroit: Become Human (2018). The company is known for promoting interactive storytelling, with founder David Cage as the primary creative force.
David Cage, after fifteen years as a composer, started writing the concept and story of The Nomad Soul in 1994. He sent the script to contacts he had acquired during his time making music, who noted that it was not technically feasible. To prove them wrong, Cage hired a team of friends and made an office out of a sound booth, with a financial deadline of six months to come up with a game engine and prototype. In the final week, Cage travelled to London and met with publisher Eidos Interactive. With the project funded and a publisher secured, The Nomad Soul was in full development; musician David Bowie played two characters and created ten original songs. Cage subsequently founded Quantic Dream on 2 May 1997 and incorporated it as a société anonyme on 3 June; the company's name draws influence from the term "quantum physics". The game was released in November 1999, selling more than 600,000 copies. Quantic Dream later provided motion capture for the 2004 film Immortal.
They followed The Nomad Soul with Fahrenheit, published by Atari, Inc. in September 2005, introducing elements that would endure in their later games—ethical ambiguity, romance, the inability to perish, and interactive storytelling. It received multiple awards and sold over one million copies. The same year, Quantic Dream revealed The Casting, a technology demonstration of what could be accomplished on PlayStation 3. This preceded the partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment to bring Heavy Rain into existence, marking "something more personal" for Cage. Heavy Rain launched in 2010 to critical acclaim, winning three awards at the 7th British Academy Games Awards and selling a total of 5.3 million copies. By late 2011, another deal had been established with Sony. The following year, Quantic Dream showed another PlayStation 3 tech demo, Kara, taking advantage of new investments in motion capture facilities. The second title with Sony was 2013's Beyond: Two Souls, starring actors Elliot Page and Willem Dafoe, which received mixed reviews from critics and managed to sell 2.8 million copies. It was the second video game to be shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013, when The Dark Sorcerer, a tech demo on PlayStation 4, was unveiled.
In 2014, Quantic Dream doubled their investment in Vicon, whose motion capture technology was previously used in Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. The company's fifth video game and third published by Sony, Detroit: Become Human, was announced the year after. Based on the Kara tech demo, it spent four years in development before releasing in May 2018. Quantic Dream's most successful launch at the time, it sold 3.2 million copies. Around then, Quantic Dream employed 180 staff members, five fewer than were reported in 2016. Chinese Internet conglomerate NetEase secured a minority investment into Quantic Dream in January 2019 for an undisclosed amount. With this, Quantic Dream's chief operating officer Guillaume de Fondaumière stated that they would no longer be limited to PlayStation-exclusive titles. Starting with the PC versions of Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human (released throughout 2019), Quantic Dream set out to self-publish its titles.
Quantic Dream's video games are written and directed by Cage and branded accordingly, with the purpose of making new intellectual properties. Cage has declared that his mission is to evoke emotion through interactive storytelling, highlighting empathy, sadness, and guilt in opposition to frustration, competition, and anger. As such, he described purchasing Heavy Rain as a "political act" that others like it could be made. The developer strives to appeal to gamers and non-gamers alike, considering video games to be the same as any artform. It is customary at Quantic Dream to develop an engine for each new game, hardware, or platform; Cage believes that, while an engine's methodology can be ported, its code cannot. Tech demos have likewise become tradition. In France, Quantic Dream is afforded a 20% tax break on production costs, without which Cage would move the company to Canada to keep up with the competition.
Hostile workplace allegations
In January 2018, three French news outlets—Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC—published the results of a joint investigation into the company's business practices, alleging several facets of a harmful studio culture. First, Cage and de Fondaumière were said to have participated in or encouraged a sexist and racist culture, with controversial images exchanged by email and posted around the office including photos of studio collaborators and employees digitally edited to appear as Nazis or porn stars. Canard PC stated that the entire IT department had quit because of these "bad jokes". Second, studio management was accused of employing an arduous "crunch time" schedule in which 15-35 additional hours of work per week were expected for a year before a game's launch. Third, the human resources department was accused of colluding to terminate fixed-term contract staff before their deal expired, violating French labour laws, and arranging settlements to remove employees who did not fit in with the studio culture.
Cage said the allegations were "ridiculous, absurd and grotesque"; de Fondaumière stated "I will be extremely clear: it's absolutely false". In February 2018, the studio called the charges "a veritable smear campaign" in an official statement. They levied lawsuits against Le Monde and Mediapart in April 2018, while Canard PC received two "threatening letters". That July, Quantic Dream lost one court case against someone who left due to the scandal. An IT manager quit working for Quantic and sued the company, looking to receive €114,000 in damages and have the resignation be considered wrongful termination. The Parisian employment tribunal further ordered Quantic Dream to pay €5,000 in addition to a €2,000 fee in December 2019. In April 2021, the Court of Appeal of Paris reversed the ruling against Quantic Dream over the wrongful termination, asserting the employee had been complicit in the situation and cleared Quantic Dream of any wrongdoing.
The trial over Quantic Dream's suit against news outlets Le Monde and Mediapart was held in May 2021. During the trial, David Cage stated that that the outlets were interfering with the business. The verdict will be given on July 8, 2021.
|1999||The Nomad Soul[a]||Microsoft Windows, Dreamcast||Eidos Interactive|
|2005||Fahrenheit[b]||PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, PlayStation 4||Atari, Aspyr, Quantic Dream|
|2010||Heavy Rain||PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows||Sony Computer Entertainment, Quantic Dream|
|2013||Beyond: Two Souls|
|2018||Detroit: Become Human||PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows|
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