Early Monday morning, reports surfaced of leaked footage from The Last of Us Part II, the eagerly awaited sequel from Sony-owned game studio Naughty Dog. According to IGN, the leak consisted of multiple videos showing crucial story moments from the upcoming title. Social media, as a result, has become a minefield of spoilery images. Folks in the games industry have received Twitter DMs from strangers hoping to ruin the experience for them.
“We know the last few days have been incredibly difficult for you. We feel the same,” Naughty Dog wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “It’s disappointing to see the release and sharing of pre-release footage from development. Do your best to avoid spoilers, and we ask that you don’t spoil it for others.”
The studio added, “No matter what you see and hear, the final experience will be worth it.”
“Heartbroken for the team. Heartbroken for our fans,” Neil Druckmann tweeted shortly afterward. “We’re still incredibly excited to get the game into your hands.”
Naughty Dog made the news just last month for its notoriously crunch-driven work culture. Former Kotaku reporter Jason Schreier spoke to 13 current and former employees familiar with the project, learning that the studio “actively seeks out workaholics” willing to work more than 12 hours a day.
“This can’t be something that’s continuing over and over for each game, because it is unsustainable,” one source told Kotaku of Last of Us Part II’s labor conditions. “At a certain point you realize, ‘I can’t keep doing this. I’m getting older. I can’t stay and work all night.’”
In response to that report, former Naughty Dog animator Jonathan Cooper took to Twitter to share his own experiences with the studio behind Last of Us and Uncharted. “When I left Naughty Dog late last year,” he said, “they threatened to withhold my final paycheck until I signed additional paperwork stating I wouldn’t share their production practices. They finally relented when I assured them that was most likely illegal.”
He added, “The reason I left is because I only want to work with the best. That is no longer Naughty Dog. Their reputation for crunch within L.A. is so bad it was near impossible to hire seasoned contract game animators to close out the project. As such, we loaded up on film animators.”
Originally slated for a February 21 release, Sony pushed The Last of Us Part II back to May 29 in October of last year. Following the coronavirus outbreak, Naughty Dog then announced the game would be delayed indefinitely “due to logistical issues beyond our control.” In the video-game industry, digital sales numbers are often kept secret by publishers and platforms; physical discs are still considered a meaningful metric for success.
On Monday, Sony announced that Last of Us Part II will arrive June 19.
Featured Image: Naughty Dog