In a recent interview with GamesRadar, Naughty Dog co-founder Andy Gavin revealed that the studio worked “so tightly” with Sony prior to the 2001 acquisition that it “might as well have been a first party studio.”
Such was the relationship that former lead technical artist, Eric Iwasaki, said that there was an “unusual level of trust” between both parties. Reflecting upon the Jak and Daxter series’ inception, Gavin further said that despite not having any contractual obligations at the time, Naughty Dog had a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Sony that it wasn’t going to “go and make a different game for Microsoft” because Sony was footing some of the development bills.
“We were working so tightly with Sony, and got along with them so well, that we might as well have been a first party studio,” Gavin told GamesRadar. “We didn’t have a contractual agreement on Jak and Daxter, but they were footing some of the bills, so we had a gentlemen’s agreement that we weren’t going to go and make a different game for Microsoft.”
According to Iwasaki, Sony invested in Jak and Daxter despite not knowing much about the game in the beginning. “Seriously, how many developers have shipped successful games on schedule for four years straight? That kind of legacy allowed us to develop an original IP without even sharing much about it until [co-founder] Jason [Rubin] felt our game was ready to be presented,” he added.
Jak and Daxter first released in 2001. Naughty Dog’s current co-president, Neil Druckmann, joined the studio as an intern in 2004 to work on Jak 3.