Naughty Dog has announced that the studio has decided to stop developing The Last of Us Online. The studio has justified the decision to cancel the game for a few reasons but mainly to maintain the studio’s heritage of single-player games.
In a statement posted on Naughty Dog’s website, the studio stated that despite working on the multiplayer project since the release of The Last of Us 2, they realised that the game required too much of the studio’s resources. Naughty Dog has claimed that working on the multiplayer game would “severely” impact the development of future single-player games. The studio found itself at a crossroads where it faced the choice to either exclusively become a live-service game studio or to only focus on single-player games which define Naughty Dog’s heritage. The company ended the announcement with a teaser stating “ We have more than one ambitious, brand new single-player game that we’re working on here at Naughty Dog” but not providing any more details.
The Last of Us Online has been hit with setbacks and controversies ever since the confirmation of its existence in June 2022. There had been speculation about whether the project would be still coming out or not due to Naughty Dog sharing hardly anything about the game. In May 2023, Naughty Dog put out a statement on Twitter (now X) stating that “we’ve realised what is best for the game is to give it more time.” The studio promised that work on the project would continue alongside the development of new projects such as a new single-player game.
“We had two paths in front of us: become a solely live service games studio or continue to focus on single-player narrative games that have defined Naughty Dog’s heritage.“Naughty Dog
This statement by Naughty Dog was released after Jason Schreier unveiled that Sony had slowed down the development and the game was scaled back after a recent evaluation. Only a small group of developers remained working on the project as the company reevaluated its direction. It was unveiled that Sony came to this decision after it tasked Bungie, the renowned studio behind the Destiny series, to evaluate the game. Bungie questioned The Last of Us Online’s ability to keep players engaged for long periods, leading to Sony’s reassessment of the project.
The cancellation announcement for The Last of Us Online was met with outcry on social media, particularly after the studio blocked users from replying to the tweet announcing the cancellation. There are several reasons for the backlash from the announcement but the biggest one appears to be the complete waste of a huge development cycle.
Another reason for the backlash is the recently announced remaster of The Last of Us 2 for the PS5. Many fans believe that Naughty Dog could have better spent the resources it used on a remaster of a game that came out not too long ago. Many believe that it is too soon to release a remaster after a game’s initial release especially when the game was patched to run at a higher frame rate and resolution on the PS5. At the time of writing, the announcement trailer for the game has 120k dislikes in comparison to 77k likes.
Naughty Dog’s direction under Neil Druckmann has caused concern among fans of the studio. The studio can ride the success of The Last of Us 2 for only so long until it uses up the benefit of the doubt it has earned so far. At the time of writing, Naughty Dog has not unveiled any new titles aside from the aforementioned teasers. It is rumoured that Naughty Dog has been working on an Uncharted game and another The Last of Us game.