Naughty Dog, the game studio behind megahit “The Last of Us,” has released deeply disappointing news to many fans: It has decided to pull the plug on its multiplayer project dubbed The Last of Us Online to focus fully on single-player games.
“There’s no easy way to say this: We’ve made the incredibly difficult decision to stop development on that game,” Naughty Dog announced in a blog post Thursday.
The company continued, “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.”
According to the company, the multiplayer team had been in preproduction on The Last of Us Online since Naughty Dog was working on “The Last of Us Part II.” But in preparing to ramp up to full production of the multiplayer game, “the massive scope of our ambition became clear,” Naughty Dog said in the blog post. “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.”
“The Last of Us” was adapted into an HBO series by game co-creator Neil Druckmann and showrunner Craig Mazin — which became an instant hit when it premiered in January 2023. Variety TV critic Aramide Tinubu named it her top pick among the best shows of the year. Before the Season 1 finale aired, HBO renewed “The Last of Us” for Season 2, to be based on “The Last of Us Part II” game. After the Hollywood strikes put the second season on hold, Mazin announced at Variety’s A Night in the Writers Room event that production would start Feb. 12.
The original game and Season 1 of the show are set in a post-apocalyptic America years after the world has been crippled by a deadly fungus. A smuggler named Joel (played by Pedro Pascal in the show) is tasked with bringing a young girl named Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the country in order to create a cure for the cordyceps fungus. Along the way, they encounter fellow survivors, cutthroat bandits and monstrous clickers — people who have become so infected by the disease that fungi sprouts from their bodies.
Naughty Dog had previously described the multiplayer game as a “fresh, new experience” that is “rooted in Naughty Dog’s passion for delivering incredible stories, characters and gameplay.”
In announcing the cancellation of The Last of Us Online, the company added that “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.”
Naughty Dog released the original “The Last of Us” game as a PlayStation 3 exclusive in 2013. Together with its DLC expansion “Left Behind,” the game was remastered for PS4 in 2014 and was followed by sequel “The Last of Us Part II” in 2020.