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The future of Don’t Nod is “relatable” games with “meaningful themes”

We interviewed head of Don't Nod publishing Xavier Spinat about the company's future and how relatable and meaningful games are going to play a large part of it

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Things have been on the up for francophone studio Don’t Nod. It’s recently moved offices both in Paris and Montreal, it’s taken its first steps into publishing, and it’s recently rebranded its name and logo – something we at The Loadout got to speak to a couple of members of the studio about. All of these things have Dont Nod’s future in mind, so we picked the brain of head of publishing Xavier Spinat about what kind of games the studio will be focusing on moving forward.

“We have a complete creative vision, which I could hardly summarise in a few words. But to give a glimpse, it is (very logically) about narrative games, relatable characters, meaningful themes, a diverse portfolio, and talent-driven productions,” Spinat says. “All the projects we work on should resonate on some level with these pillars.”

He tells us that Don’t Nod sees its games as being culturally important and relevant, rather than being all about the latest technical breakthroughs that might have shiny graphics but little substance. This leads to a mindset that considers how games will play in ten or 20 years. If its previous outings like Life Is Strange or Vampyr are anything to go by, it’s on the right track.

Games with compelling stories have always been Don’t Nod’s bread and butter, and it seems that’s how it’s going to stay. “We think that narrative games with relatable characters bring you into an emotional inner journey,” Spinat says. “You are not just a spectator, you are actually in the shoes of someone else, making choices as them, feeling emotions as them.”

It’s this vicarious experience that Spinat thinks allows for Don’t Nod’s special kind of norm-challenging messages and ideas to shine through. “Making this journey can really be a way to challenge your preconceptions about others, experiencing the world in ways you would never have imagined on your own. Videogames can be powerful empathy engines, and at Don’t Nod, we want to make our stories more memorable. I am not saying that every player will be changed by playing our games, but to some, it might be a very meaningful experience, more than just entertainment.”

But, Spinat tells us, rehashing the same old concepts ad nauseum makes the messages lose their meaning, so the team always has their eye on the future. “Our portfolio will include very different games,” he says. “The connection between them is more on the level of the process and the care we maintain to build them and bring them to the audience.”

The Loadout’s full interview with Don’t Nod will be available soon.