Naughty Dog is remaking The Last of Us for Playstation 5, and it’s causing unrest at Sony
The Last of Us is quite a fantastic game. Following Ellie and Joel through an infested post-apocalypse is nothing short of satisfying. Their relationship starts antagonistic, but the game’s pace builds their connection believably. By the game’s end, fans are so involved with these characters that morally questionable decisions or downright terrible ones they make shows they are heavily flawed. We understand the world is broken— Ellie and Joel or no different.
Naughty Dog released The Last of Us in 2013 on PS3 and then remastered it for the PS4 one year later. Well, according to a new Bloomberg report, Sony studios is remaking the duo’s first adventure for PS5. The remake will feature improvements inspired by The Last of Us Part II, but I’m sitting here wondering why. It appears Sony’s smaller teams are also wondering why a remake is the focus of the company.
The Last of Us Remake is reshaping Sony teams
Sony’s Visual Arts Service Group (VASC), a support-oriented studio, was initially behind the remake. Later, Sony moved them to a support position, handing over the remake to Naughty Dog. At this point, the VASC also helped Naughty Dog complete The Last of Us Part 2. The Bloomberg report states this was a point of contention and resulted in the group’s founder – Michael Mumbauer – leaving Sony.
According to Bloomberg, the remake is part of an ongoing struggle with conflicting goals between those smaller teams and Sony’s desire for large, blockbuster-scale video games. Allegedly, senior leadership at PlayStation wants more critically acclaimed commercial titles. Or, in short, AAA games with no room for imaginative small-scale games. The appeal is evident when we look at games like God of War and The Last of Us. However, that does not leave room for smaller, unique experiences.
Sony rejected Sony Bend Studio’s pitch for a sequel to Days Gone, redirecting some of the team to assist Naughty Dog on two other projects. At least now Sony Bend is working on a new game of its own, but they’re actively pulling teams away from dream projects. Is this why we’ve witnessed a host of Sony employees abandoning ship? It would make sense.
Naughty Dog has two extraordinarily successful franchises – Uncharted and The Last of Us. They are intellectual properties so lucrative that Sony is adapting television and cinematic versions of both. So, it makes sense to remake the original. A remake will refresh everyone’s minds about the source material and possibly introduce new players to the story. Then, of course, interest builds toward the HBO series adaptation of The Last of Us. Hopefully, it does not suffer the same fate as most video game movie adaptations.
Beyond generating buzz for The Last of Us series, Sony wants to expand upon their most successful franchises. So, Michael Mumbauer recruited around 30 developers, but they operated in secret. Unfortunately, that also meant Sony did not fund or support them well enough. As mentioned earlier, Mumbauer and other team members left Sony after they lost control of the remake.
What does this mean for Sony’s future?
By no means will Sony stop making amazing video games. The problem is players are going to have far less choice between the types of experiences they play. I started to notice a lack of variation between shooters and began to grow bored. Blockbuster video games usually have all the bells and whistles needed to exist in their own space, unencumbered by clones. That’s great for Sony’s famous catalog.
Looking back at the Bloomberg report, Sony isn’t greenlighting any experimental, personal projects at all. So, not only is video game preservation not on their radar. Sony only wants to create multimillion-dollar games. While the strategy makes sense to Sony, it’s gamers who are missing out in the end.
I’ll remain optimistic in my belief that Sony won’t stick to this new strategy for the foreseeable future. Sadly, I’m no prophet.