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News for nerds

The video game acquisitions continue: this time it’s French developer Quantic Dream, which has been bought by Chinese game company NetEase.

NetEase, which publishes Blizzard’s mobile game Diablo Immortal, said it had acquired the studio behind Detroit: Become Human, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls without disclosing a fee. NetEase originally acquired a minority stake in Quantic Dream in 2019.

Quantic Dream, led by David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière, is now NetEase’s first studio in Europe. It will “continue to operate independently, focusing on creating and publishing its video games on all platforms, as well as supporting and publishing third-party developed titles, while at the same time leveraging NetEase’s significant game development capabilities”, the company insisted.

Earlier this month, Cage responded to allegations of an unhealthy studio culture and inappropriate behaviour at Quantic Dream, which he previously described as a “smear campaign”.

In an interview with Edge, Cage discussed the company culture of the studio and denied a lack of humility in its response to allegations.

“I don’t think we had an aggressive attitude,” he said. “When you’re accused of things that go against everything you believe in, everything you’ve done in your life, it hurts. It went beyond just attacking the studio culture.

“Of course, like any human organisation, we are not perfect by any means,” Cage continued. “But are we the kind of studio that was described? Our employees have said repeatedly: it’s not true. Can we improve? Yes. Have we made mistakes in the past? Probably. But we had to do something about what was being said. We were so hurt by specific allegations that we know are wrong or false, that we had to defend ourselves. We wanted people to hear our voice.”

Back in 2018, a number of reports in French media claimed Quantic Dream had a schoolboy culture of racism and sexist jokes. One instance at the company stood out in particular: an employee who Photoshopped images of his co-workers on to the bodies of Nazis and semi-naked women.

Cage told Edge these were “unacceptable images” and the situation was dealt with in less than two hours, before stating: “I do not believe we have ever been a toxic company.”

He continued: “We have never held these horrible values. Since the start, 25 years ago, the company has always been based on humanist values of inclusivity. We have always championed diversity. You can see this through the games we make.

“These values are upheld in our company. Half of our managers are women. We have had LGBT employees present at all levels of the studio since day one. We have a high retention rate in an industry where turnover is the rule. Time after time, in anonymous third party surveys, employees state that they prize the atmosphere in the studio, the fact that it’s a warm, friendly place to work.”

Quantic Dream and Cage himself subsequently launched lawsuits against the three French media companies who jointly investigated the studio, alleging libel, with mixed success.

Quantic Dream is still best known for its 2010 narrative adventure Heavy Rain, released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Once a close PlayStation ally, Quantic Dream announced in 2019 that it would no longer develop games exclusively for Sony platforms.

Quantic Dream is currently working on Star Wars Eclipse. At Gamescom last week it announced a publishing deal for Under the Waves, an underwater story about grief and ocean preservation. Quantic Dream is also reportedly working on a new project based upon The Dark Sorcerer, its 2013 PlayStation 4 tech demo.