A History of Naughty Dog: From Past to Present

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Naughty Dog, one of today’s greatest game studios and the guys behind some of the biggest hits in all of gaming!

The massively successful game developer wasn’t always the giant it is today.

In fact, did you know when the company was founded, Naughty Dog was originally called JAM Software? Yes it’s true and that’s just one of the lesser known facts about Naughty Dog we will be telling you today! 

Let’s begin A History of Naughty Dog…

3. 2. 1 ….. GO!

Related Article: Games Week 2018 Round Up & GOTY!


Naughty Dogs humble beginnings started back in 1984. I know, that’s over 30 years ago! The company was started by Andy Gavin and Jason Rubin, together they put their artistic and programming skills to practice and founded JAM Software in Andy’s basement. 

JAM Software is also know as Jason and Andy’s Magic. It wouldn’t be until 1985 that the duo would self-publish Math Jam for the Apple II computer. Yes, you did read that right. Naughty Dog has been around since Steve Jobs started dominating the turtleneck scene!

Math Jam was distributed via floppy disk with photocopied instructions in a plastic bag. 

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Math Jam was on one of these bad boys!

Entering the Gaming World

Jason and Andy wouldn’t debut their first title until 1986. This is when JAM Software released Ski Crazed. The game would go onto be bought and published by Baudville for $250. Ski Crazed was playable on the Apple II computer and managed to sell around 1,500 copies.

Who knew Naughty Dog and Apple were such good buddies back in the day?


On 9th September 1989……. Hold on, it was a Saturday. Man Google is helpful! On Saturday 9th September 1989 JAM Software officially changed their name. On this day, Naughty Dog was born. 

From 1989 through to 1995 Naughty Dog would go on to release Keef the Thief for the Apple II computer, Amiga and MS-DOS. They would also release Rings of Power for the Sega Genesis and Ways of the Warrior. 

Everything they were building on would eventually lead them to their first big title success!

Crash Bandicoot Arrives

On 9th September 1996 Crash Bandicoot was officially released for the PlayStation.

Fun Fact #1: Did you know Crash Bandicoot was originally called “Willie the Wombat”

After 14 months of development Crash Bandicoot was announced at E3 for the PlayStation Console. The game went on to sell over 6.8 Million copies and would become one of the highest selling titles for the console!

During Crash Bandicoot’s peak he was officially made Sony’s mascot for the PlayStation console.

With the creation of Crash Bandicoot Naughty Dog began to grow.

Between 1997 and 1999 Naughty Dog released 2 more Crash Bandicoot games and spin off racing game Crash Team Racing. Crash Bandicoot had now earned Naughty Dog multiple awards.

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Dawn of Jak and Daxter

By 2001 Naughty Dog had become a PlayStation first party studio. In December of the same year they had also released a new game title, Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, exclusively for the PlayStation 2. 

Jak and Daxter would go on to earn Naughty Dog even more awards, some of which include “Original Game Character of the Year” and Japan’s “Gold Prize”. Repeating much of the success they had with Crash Bandicoot. 

Between 2001 and 2005 Naughty Dog had developed 3 additional games to the Jak and Daxter series. These were Jak II, Jak 3 and Jak X: Combat Racing. With Jak II  winning Naughty Dog a Platinum Prize for over 1 million units sold in Japan. 

Uncharted Franchise

By 2006 Naughty Dog began to change gear, away from it’s original roots of Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter series. Instead of making animated characters in fantasy/fictional worlds, they focused on creating more realistic characters and worlds.

Fun Fact #2: During it’s development Uncharted was known as project “Big”

In November 2007 Naughty Dog released it’s first game in a new series Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. The game was well received by critics and went on to sell over a million copies in it’s first 10 weeks of retail, with several review sites naming it their Game of the Year! 

After the success of the first game, the Uncharted franchise continued to grow. Releasing 3 more games for the series, spin off’s for PlayStation’s handheld consoles, a spin off for the PS4 (Uncharted: The Lost Legacy) and a remaster of the original trilogy named Uncharted: The Nathan Drake collection! Making the Uncharted franchise Naughty Dog’s biggest game series to date. 

The Last of Us

In 2011 Naughty Dog announced the arrival of a new game title called The Last of Us. The game would be set in a post apocalyptic world and follow the story of a teenage girl called Ellie. 

Fun Fact #3: During it’s development The Last of Us was known as Project “Thing” (You have got to love these code names right?)

Starting it’s development in 2009, the game wouldn’t release until June 2013 for the PlayStation 3. Following it’s announcement in 2011, the game became highly anticipated. Once released, The Last of Us received positive reviews from many online reviewers and sold over 1.3 million copies in it’s first week! The Last of Us received multiple Game of the Year Awards, more than 200 of them, it’s incredible! This makes The Last of Us one of the most awarded games in history. 

If that wasn’t already enough, The Last of Us is also considered by many to be one of the BEST, yes that’s right, one of the best games ever made! That right there says enough alone. 

Naughty Dog later released a DLC for the game called The Last of Us: Left Behind and would remaster The Last of Us for PS4 in 2014. 

In 2016 the company announced The Last of Us: Part II, although no released date has been announced for the upcoming title. It has already been awarded the most anticipated game by the Gamers’ Choice Awards!

Naughty Dog 

As one of the industry leading game developers, you can see that their success certainly wasn’t built overnight. They were built through hard work and a huge amount of effort over the course of 34 years. Naughty Dog know their market really well. They know when it’s changing and more importantly they know how to adapt. It’s because of this, Naughty Dog are able to deliver their fans amazing game titles with every release!

If you want to check out their timeline you can visit them here  https://www.naughtydog.com/timeline/

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Made it this far? Why not check out 2019 Games We Can’t Wait To Play!



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