The Rise of Naughty Dog, Part 2
Ramsay: Why did you leave Crash for Jak and Daxter?
Rubin: Naughty Dog would have liked continuing with Crash beyond Crash Team Racing, but the relationship with Universal was untenable. Originally, we had signed a three-project deal; however, when Sony became enamored with the game and eventually negotiated to publish Crash, Universal cut a deal for a sizable yet much smaller cut of the game than they would have received as the publisher. Our contract with Universal never contemplated this occurrence. We were effectively crammed down into a cut of their cut. This made no sense. Our costs and recoup were the same. Our effort was the same, but we were getting a much smaller amount per copy sold. On the other hand, the arrangement meant that Universal had no more marketing costs, very little internal management costs, and eventually they even managed to push the financing costs back to Sony.
It is perfectly fair to say that they did next to nothing on the project and yet reaped a larger amount on the early games' profit than we did. The only reason I cannot say that Universal contributed nothing is that Mark Cerny, a Universal employee, was our producer. He was a massive force in the success of our games. His salary and work could be called Universal's contribution to the first few Crash titles. But Mark eventually left Universal, and we started contracting him directly. Sony effectively paid for his work. While Mark continued to be incredibly important to our titles, his contribution could no longer be attributable to Universal. From that point forward, they did literally nothing but collect royalties that should have been, at least in large part, ours.