Every Naughty Dog Franchise She’s Apparently Left Behind
Since its creation in 1984, The naughty dog has steadily developed a reputation in the gaming industry for its creative excellence and pioneering technological advancements. Often, the IP addresses he has developed, such as Crash Bandicoot, Unexploredand The last of us, have become household names among gamers at times. Its rise to prominence is so prolific that following Sony’s acquisition of the studio in 2001, Naughty Dog has become arguably the most prolific and celebrated PlayStation developer.
There’s a long list of factors that made Naughty Dog’s journey to this position possible that shouldn’t be overlooked. Besides the desire to take creative risks on new IPs, the full adoption of 3D in the 90s and the early adoption of motion capture technology, are just some of the reasons for its success. Innovation often goes hand in hand with wholesale change, so it’s no surprise that Naughty Dog’s history has also been defined by a desire to leave beloved franchises behind. With the studio set to have a big presence on Sony’s PS5, it’s worth looking back at every franchise that has paved the way so far.
Naughty Dog pre-PlayStation
It might be easy to forget given the position it now occupies within Sony’s first-party lineup, but Naughty Dog’s history predates PlayStation by an entire decade. During this time, the studio has honed its craft while working with a number of high profile partners such as Apple, EA and Sega. Under its original name JAM Software, inspired by its two founders, the studio released a handful of games between 1985 and 1987 for platforms like Apple II, DOS and Atari ST. These included math jam, Crazy about skiingand dream zone.
In an attempt to part ways with its early creations, due to their less than stellar reception, the studio took the name Naughty Dog in 1989. The same year, the renamed studio released its point-and-click adventure RPG comedy theme, Keef the Thief. Neither he nor his follow-up adventure rings of power, were well received, prompting Naughty Dog to take a years-long hiatus from game development. Eventually, that silence gave way to the 1994s. The Warrior’s Patha fighting game for the 3DO that laid the foundation for the studio’s future.
Due to the lack of critical or commercial success of this part of Naughty Dog’s history, it’s hard to imagine the studio ever wanting to revisit these IPs. The fact that most of the creatives who helped build the studio in the 80s are now long gone from its corporate setup probably makes this even more true. Licensing issues, exacerbated by the fact that nearly 40 years have passed since these games were created, are the final nail in the metaphorical coffin. Instead, it seems much more likely that the settings that defined this era of Naughty Dog will be repurposed for new projects.
From humble beginnings, Naughty Dog gained its first real taste of world fame with the Crash Bandicoot series. Published in collaboration between Sony and Universal Interactive, the 1996 original Crash Bandicoot quickly spawned two acclaimed sequels.
Thanks to Naughty Dog’s decision to make the franchise a 3D platformer, crash instantly stands out from the likes of mario and Sonic. After lingering on the fringes of the industry, the studio had managed to create PlayStation’s first mascot, while helping to legitimize Sony’s future empire. Having achieved this lofty position, Naughty Dog’s tenure with crash ended due to licensing agreements with Universal in 1999, following the release of Crash Team Racing.
As it stands, Activision Blizzard is being acquired by Microsoft, which means Crash Bandicoot is configured to become a proprietary IP address again. In a turn of events once thought unimaginable, it’s now possible that Sony’s original mascot will no longer appear on PlayStation platforms in the future. That being said, before Microsoft’s plans were announced, it was already hard to imagine Naughty Dog ever returning to the series. The extra distance that has now been put between the two means this will almost never happen.
Jack and Daxter
To avoid falling victim again to the licensing heartbreak that saw him split from crashNaughty Dog officially joined Sony’s fledgling family in 2001. Emboldened by the success of its previous work, the studio set out to create a new series of platformers that featured more action mechanics and narrative elements. Jak and Daxter: The Legacy of the Forerunners, released at the end of the same year on PS2, was the end result. Alongside Insomniac Games’ Ratchet and Clankand Sucker Punch Sly CooperNaughty Dog’s series quickly became part of a trio that defined Sony’s second home console for many gamers.
Following the release of two sequels that featured more open-world mechanics and another racing game spin-off, Naughty Dog took advantage of the arrival of the PS3 to redefine itself once again. Jack and Daxter was then shelved, so the studio could focus on making Nathan Drake’s adventures. While an attempt to achieve maturity James 4 out of the ground was explored again in 2010, Naughty Dog ultimately opted to create The last of us in place.
Having struggled with the prospect of returning to Jack and Daxter for so long, it’s hard to say if the studio has completely let go of the series. Based on the creative constraints of returning to an established series, which sank two known James occasions, it seems far more likely that a new studio will eventually be called upon to push the pair forward.
In many ways, Naughty Dog’s decision to create its adventure-inspired pulp Unexplored franchise, is one that has defined the trajectory of PlayStation more broadly in recent years. Today, third-person narrative experiences that place a premium on cinematic excellence make up a large part of Sony’s portfolio. While the publisher’s lineup isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds, games like God of the war 2018, Ghost of Tsushimaand Forbidden Horizon Westwere all influenced to some degree by the adventures of Nathan Drake.
Although Unexplored remains a big part of Sony’s plans, as evidenced by how the film in the franchise is PlayStation Productions’ first outing, it’s proven that Naughty Dog’s time with the universe is over. Considering how the studio took on a lead development role on the PS5 Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection a few months ago, that might seem like a bold statement to make.
However, if recent rumors and insider leaks are to be believed, the studio is currently working on several The last of us projects and a new IP behind the scenes. Instead, it feels like a different developer will be called upon to take Unexplored forward, with The naughty dog providing support in a supervisory capacity.
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