One of the most notable omissions from this week's PlayStation Showcase was anything from Naughty Dog. Many (including yours truly) expected the studio to reveal more details about its Last of Us multiplayer game, but we'll need to wait a little longer to learn more about that title.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Naughty Dog said "we're incredibly proud of the job our studio has done thus far, but as development has continued, we've realized what is best for the game is to give it more time." As such, it now seems unlikely that we'll hear much about the game during Summer Game Fest (where Naughty Dog offered a first peek at concept art from the project last year) on June 8th or on June 14th, which is the 10th anniversary of The Last Of Us arriving on PS3.
In a blog post in January, studio co-president and The Last of Us co-creator Neil Druckmann said the studio would "begin to offer you some details on our ambitious The Last of Us multiplayer game" sometime this year. That suggests the studio wasn't planning to release the title in 2023. In any case, it's probably a good thing that Naughty Dog is taking its time to get things right. The studio won't want to be in a position where it's releasing a game that definitely could have used more time in the oven, as was the case with the buggy debut of The Last of Us Part 1 on PC.
Shortly after Naughty Dog released its statement on Twitter, Bloomberg published a report citing multiple unnamed sources who said the studio is reconsidering the viability of the multiplayer project. The report claims that the project has not been cancelled, but many of the developers working on it have been reassigned to other projects. Currently, a "small group" remains on the project as Naughty Dog evaluates what comes next.
Sony also reportedly asked another of its studies, Bungie, to evaluate the work that Naughty Dog had done on its unnamed Last of Us multiplayer game. Bungie apparently said it had doubts about whether the game could keep players engaged over a long period of time. Given Bungie's success at that with the Destiny franchise, it makes some sense that the studio was called in for an opinion, though it's also fair to say Destiny and The Last of Us are wildly different games.
On a positive note, Naughty Dog says it has other games (plural) in development, "including a brand new single-player experience." It's been known for a while that the studio had at least one other game in the works, but it's not clear whether this single-player title will continue the main story of The Last of Us. Naughty Dog said it looks forward to "sharing more soon."
“I know the fans really want Last of Us Part 3. I hear about it all of the time and all I can say is that we’re already into our next project, so the decision has already been made," Druckmann told Kinda Funny in March. "I can’t say what it is, but that’s the process we went through, that there was a lot of consideration of different things, and we picked the thing we were most excited for.”
Update, May 26th 2023, 4:20PM ET: This story has been updated to include details about a report just published by Bloomberg on the future of the multiplayer game.