Life is Strange creator Dontnod has secured new funding to self-publish future games, sparking speculation it is no longer aligned with Square Enix, the publisher which oversees the Life is Strange franchise.
Yesterday, Dontnod announced a €30m (£26.5m) financing deal with Chinese tech giant Tencent for "new self-published intellectual properties" - a plan first mentioned to GamesIndustry.biz in an interview last November.
Dontnod has worked with various publishers in the past, including Focus Home Interactive for Vampyr and Xbox for Tell Me Why, though it ultimately self-published its most recent game Twin Mirror after an initial publishing deal with Bandai Namco was dropped.
Life is Strange is the studio's most popular creation, though there has been uncertainty for a while over Dontnod's future with it.
In a surprising move last year, numerous key members of the original Life is Strange development team announced they had splintered from Dontnod's main Paris studio to form a new branch in Montreal. A few months later, we heard confirmation this team was working on a new franchise - and not Life is Strange.
A statement given to Eurogamer at the time from key Life is Strange developers Luc Baghadoust and Michel Koch did not rule out them returning to the franchise in the future, but confirmed they were now working on "new exciting ideas we want to explore".
At that point, the most likely outcome seemed to be that another team within Dontnod would continue Life is Strange, while the franchise's original creators crafted their next big thing. Last year's enjoyable Tell Me Why, for example, served as a strong indicator of Dontnod's ability to make high-quality episodic games of a similar nature to Life is Strange, while not being helmed by Life is Strange's creators. In terms of its themes, setting and characters, Tell Me Why felt like a new Life is Strange game in all but name.
Now, there's new suggestion Life is Strange will continue elsewhere. A Twitter post last night from internet tipster Emily Rogers suggested Square Enix had tapped Life is Strange prequel developer Deck Nine to continue the franchise instead.
Deck Nine memorably developed Life is Strange: Before the Storm, a story set before the events of Life is Strange 1 which filled in some of its narrative gaps while keeping close to the style of Dontnod's original. Its initial announcement was treated with a little trepidation by some fans, though on release it was widely accepted as a worthy addition.
Dontnod's own Life is Strange 2, meanwhile, took the franchise in a different direction. While similar in tone, and with occasional references to Life is Strange 1, it featured a fresh set of characters and a road movie-style string of locations.
Square Enix declined to comment when contacted by Eurogamer on where Life is Strange will continue next.