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THE EDGE POST

How Don’t Nod Started?



Don't Nod Entertainment SA is a French video game developer based in Paris. Founded in June 2008, it started development on Remember Me (2013). Because of its poor return on investment, Don't Nod entered "judicial reorganisation" in 2013. With the help of French agency funding, it signed Life Is Strange (2015) with publisher Square Enix Europe in 2014, whose successful release raised Don't Nod's industry status. In May 2018, Don't Nod went public on the Euronext Growth market. Other games they have developed include Vampyr, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Life Is Strange 2, Twin Mirror, and Tell Me Why.


Company History


On May 1, 2008, former employees of Criterion Games, Ubisoft, and Electronic Arts, including Hervé Bonin, Aleksi Briclot, Alain Damasio, Oskar Guilbert, and Jean-Maxime Moris, created a new company called Dontnod Entertainment. The studio, which had been located in the 12th arrondissement's Quartier des Quinze-Vingts, relocated to the 19th arrondissement's Quartier de la Villette in late 2008. Dontnod's debut game was built on Unreal Engine 3, and after collaborating with Epic Games' technical team, Epic extended the studio's UE3 assessment.


Remember Me was the studio's debut release, planned as a PlayStation 3-exclusive role-playing game, but scrapped in 2011 due to budget constraints at publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment. The next year, Capcom bought the rights and remade the game into an action-adventure title, releasing it on various platforms to poor reviews and lacklustre sales. It was first shown at Gamescom that year in an effort to garner another publishing agreement. The French government's Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée gave Dontnod 600 000€ in subsidies in 2013. (CNC). This includes 200,000 Euros in funding for a new intellectual property (IP) initiative first known as "What if?" (now known as Life is Strange). A judicial reorganisation was initiated by Dontnod on January 28, 2014, and the case was closed in February 2018. After discovering the court filing, Factornews alleged that Dontnod had filed for bankruptcy because to the failure of Remember Me. Dontnod denied the bankruptcy rumours and said that they were undergoing a "judicial restructuring." Dontnod and Square Enix Europe revealed a new game in June of 2014, and that game was Life Is Strange, which was published in 2015 in five parts. The original plan was for Dontnod to self-publish the whole game, but Square Enix requested that it be broken up into episodes. The game was well-received by critics, having been nominated for more than seventy-five Game of the Year awards and accolades, and had sold over three million copies as of May 2017. After the economic and critical success of Life Is Strange, publishers began approaching Dontnod instead of the other way around.


Dontnod worked with Xbox Game Studios on Tell Me Why, a 2020 episodic adventure game. Also in 2020, Dontnod published its first self-owned IP, Twin Mirror co-developed with Shibuya Productions, which was originally published by Bandai Namco. A subsidiary studio in Montreal, Canada, was announced in May 2020, adding to its more than 250 employees in France. In January 2021, Dontnod announced that Tencent had acquired a minority stake in the company for €30 million, granting the option to appoint a member to their board. The investment will allow Dontnod to continue self-publishing their titles and expand into China and the mobile game sector. Dontnod stated in April 2021 they plan to expand their self-publishing capabilities to third-party publishing as well, with the first planned title from Copenhagen-based studio PortaPlay. In September 2021, Dontnod made their remote work policy (Fully Remote Organization scheme) permanent for all employees. On 31 May 2022, the company changed its name to Don't Nod. Its publishing side released its first game, Gerta: A Flame in Winter in September 2022.


Early Success


Square Enix published Life is Strange, the studio's second game. Most prospective publishers were unwilling to publish the game without more action sequences or a male protagonist due to "limited sales potential," a problem they had with their first product, Remember Me. CEO Oskar Guilbert questioned the notion.


Square Enix was the only publisher who didn't adjust the game's story. Dontnod pitched Square Enix a larger game, but the publisher wasn't interested, so they presented What If?, eventually renamed Life is Strange. Before contracting with Square Enix, Dontnod envisioned self-publishing Life is Strange. The publisher thought it would be more popular as episodes. The episodic model, popularised by Telltale Games, was used for economical, marketing, and artistic reasons to convey the story at a slower pace.


Life is Strange was the saving grace for Dontnod and improved the studio's situation immensely from two years ago. The episodic narrative-driven adventure game has won multiple awards and sold in huge numbers, thanks in part to the publishing efforts of Square Enix. Whereas prior to Life is Strange, Dontnot had to work hard to find a publisher, now publishers would reach out to the studio on their own for collaboration. "It has completely transformed Dontnod," according to Oskar Guilbert.


Fans Critics


Developer had been criticized by fans for depiction racism inside the games, supporting woke ( left wing ideology) culture, and shorter game time.


This won’t be a big issue when company still small, however due to fulfilling publisher demand, company had to follow what publisher demanded. However, it known that big publisher like Square Enix, Bandai Namco, etc don’t want to involve in any sort allegation because of offending certain group subculture in the west.


Company newer title like “Remember Me” and “ Twin Mirror” is not doing well as the legacy “life is Strange”, it could be assumed fans are jumping ship but there is no clear date from game journalism just yet.


Controversies


Fans argued that Life is strange series did poorly by Don’t Nod to the point publisher had to replace it’s original developer to “Deck Nine” after the release of Life is Strange 2. Although the official statement didn’t come out. Fans is still wondering if that’s true.


Company lost 2 Publisher after it’s early success because of poor sales, and company decided to self publish it’s newer title like “Remember Me” and “ Twin Mirror”.


Although this might be true, there is possibility company decided to be independent by it’s own without any external influence.

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