Dontnod CEO dismisses Telltale comparisons, reinforces commitment to original IP

Co-founder Oskar Guilbert adds that Life is Strange developer has no plans to open another studio following partnership with Dontnod Eleven
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The success of its episodic drama Life is Strange may have drawn favourable comparisons with fellow story-focused studio Telltale Games, but Dontnod Entertainment doesn’t plan to simply follow the Walking Dead dev’s footsteps into the world of licences.

That’s the vow from Dontnod CEO and co-founder Oskar Guilbert, who told Develop that despite Life is Strange’s noted similarities to Telltale’s work – namely a preference for episodic narratives and strong ties to pop culture – the developer didn’t want to delve into adapting other companies’ IP as Telltale has done with series including The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Wolf Among Us, Minecraft, Batman and Marvel.

“No, no, no, we don't want to do that,” he retorted. “We want to create our own IPs.”

However, Guilbert admitted that the dev, which is currently working on original title Vampyr, might be open to partnering with an existing TV, film or literary franchise – if the right offer came up.

“Maybe in the future, I don't know, who knows?” he continued. “Maybe if we see something really interesting, an IP we really want to develop, then yes. But no, we see ourselves like maybe IP creators.

“It's funny because you mention pop culture and that's exactly the case – we love TV series like Twin Peaks and X-Files, and now after releasing a game [Life is Strange] inspired by TV series we have a TV series which is inspired by the game through our partnership with Legendary. So yeah, the circle is closed now.”

Guilbert also spoke regarding Dontnod’s partnership with French developer Hesaw, which has been rebranded as Dontnod Eleven despite not being acquired by the studio.

Asked whether Dontnod would look to open another division in the future – perhaps directly owned by the studio – Guilbert insisted: “No, no, no – it's enough.

“We are happy with those two studios,” he explained. “We see very much Dontnod Eleven as a laboratory, maybe. It's a small, small team.

“11 is the size of a football team, so we want to keep it... it doesn't mean there are just 11 there – there are about 20 because in football you have the people on the bench – but we really want to keep this team small to make it progress.

“We want to learn from them, because they now have this knowledge of multiplayer – we don't know that in Dontnod Entertainment, so maybe from a technical engineering perspective we could share things. But yes, I really want them to stay together and to continue their path.”

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