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The Last of Us Online Canceled

Naughty Dog Ceases Development Of The Last Of Us Online

by Marcus Stewart on Dec 14, 2023 at 06:56 PM

Naughty Dog has announced it has ceased production of The Last of Us Online, its long-in-development multiplayer title set within its popular post-apocalyptic universe. 

In a blog post, Naughty Dog explains it made the “incredibly difficult” decision to cancel the project after it apparently became so big that the studio realized it would need to devote precious resources to support it post-launch for years to come. When faced with the reality of having to become a studio solely dedicated to supporting a live service game or to continue making single-player experiences, it chose the latter. 

Here's Naughty Dog's full statement:

We realize many of you have been anticipating news around the project that we’ve been calling The Last of Us Online. There’s no easy way to say this: We’ve made the incredibly difficult decision to stop development on that game.
We know this news will be tough for many, especially our dedicated The Last of Us Factions community, who have been following our multiplayer ambitions ardently. We’re equally crushed at the studio as we were looking forward to putting it in your hands. We wanted to share with you some background of how we came to this decision.
The multiplayer team has been in pre-production with this game since we were working on The Last of Us Part II – crafting an experience we felt was unique and had tremendous potential. As the multiplayer team iterated on their concept for The Last of Us Online during this time, their vision crystalized, the gameplay got more refined and satisfying, and we were enthusiastic about the direction in which we were headed.
In ramping up to full production, the massive scope of our ambition became clear. To release and support The Last of Us Online we’d have to put all our studio resources behind supporting post launch content for years to come, severely impacting development on future single-player games. So, 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.
We are immensely proud of everyone at the studio that touched this project. The learnings and investments in technology from this game will carry into how we develop our projects and will be invaluable in the direction we are headed as a studio. We have more than one ambitious, brand new single player game that we're working on here at Naughty Dog, and we cannot wait to share more about what comes next when we’re ready.
Until then, we’re incredibly thankful to our community for your support throughout the years.
The Last Of Us Multiplayer Game
The Last of Us Online concept art

The Last of Us Online was originally intended as a multiplayer mode attached to The Last of Us Part II, serving as a successor to the first game's Factions mode. However, as its scope expanded, Naughty Dog made the decision to make it a larger standalone experience in order to prioritize releasing the single-player campaign of Part II, which arrived in 2020 to critical acclaim (while polarizing fans). The Last of Us Online made its more formal debut during Summer Game Fest in 2022, though the studio only revealed concept art and gave no release window. 

In January, Naughty Dog released new concept art, promising to share more details about the game later this year. In May, the studio stated it needed more time to work on the project amidst reports of a troubled development. In October, 25 employees were laid off across various departments (mostly QA), with reports stating that TLOU Online's development was effectively "on ice." A few weeks later, Sony delayed the title alongside an unknown number of upcoming live-service titles. 

This news serves as a big blemish on an otherwise great year for the franchise. Last month, Sony announced The Last of Us Part II Remastered, a modernized version of the 2020 game launching next month with new enhancements and additions, such as its roguelite mode No Return. HBO's The Last of Us series premiered earlier this year to critical acclaim and won the Game Award for Best Adaptation. The franchise even got its own haunted house at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. Although the writing was on the wall for The Last of Us Online's demise, it's sad to know that it won't come to fruition. 

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