Naughty Dog Ceases Development Of The Last Of Us Online
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:
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.