Brushing aside the likes of Killzone, Resistance and (arguably) Gran Turismo — Naughty Dog's tales of Nathan Drake and company have found a market bigger than many of Sony's other endeavours. But it could have been so different.
The series was originally intended as a fantasy franchise, but noticing the boom of "gritty shooters" on the XBOX 360, Sony asked Naughty Dog to change direction.
"We were talking about a more 'realistic' game in terms of how it was modelled and rendered but the concepts were much more far out. One was a forest world where the antagonists lived underground. It had elements of Tolkien in for sure," environment modeler Don Poole told NowGamer.
"Sony kept pushing for a more realistic game in all respects. The market had changed a lot by then. The demographic was older and gritty shooters were really dominating. Sony wanted very much to get into that market share, it pushed all of its developers in this direction.
"So the big push from Sony, not just at Naughty Dog but at all of Sony's development companies at the time, was to craft games for PlayStation 3 that were much more realistic. The pressure from XBOX's success with gritty shooters was a very real force on our direction at that time."
Unsurprisingly, the direction wasn't met by much enthusiasm at the time.
"We had a lot of internal grumbling about the realist bent. More of the old dogs were from the Crash and Jak era and preferred that more whimsical style. But alas, that was a losing battle."
Paid off in the long-term though. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception is arguably the most anticipated game of the year.