We’ve known for a while that Naughty Dog was working on a standalone multiplayer Last of Us game, but the past few months have raised questions about the state of the project behind the scenes. There have been reports that the development team has been reduced, and while it had not been completely canceled, it had been put “on hold.” And although the project’s director confirmed only a month ago that it was still in the works, that is no longer officially the case.
Naughty Dog has announced that the multiplayer game, internally referred to as The Last of Us Online, has been canceled. Reportedly, the sheer size and ambition of the project meant that all of Naughty Dog would have to focus primarily on supporting the game with post-launch content for the next few years, and the studio decided instead to stay focused on the story-based single-player experiences for which it has become known.
“The multiplayer team has been in pre-production with this game since we worked on The Last of Us Part 2 – creating an experience that we felt was unique and had huge potential,” Naughty Dog wrote. “As the multiplayer team fine-tuned their concept for The Last of Us Online during this time, their vision crystallized, the gameplay became more refined and satisfying, and we were excited about the direction we were going.
“As we scaled up to full production, the enormity of our ambition became clear. To release and support The Last of Us Online, we would have to put all our studio resources behind supporting post-launch content for the next few years, which would severely impact the development of future single-player games. So we had two paths ahead of us: become a purely live service games studio or continue to focus on single-player narrative games that defined Naughty Dog’s heritage.
“We are immensely proud of everyone at the studio who touched this project. The lessons and investment in technology from this game will carry over into how we develop our projects and will be invaluable in the direction we go as a studio.”
Interestingly, Naughty Dog also confirmed that it currently has several major single-player games in development.