The maker of the blockbuster video game The Last of Us, which was adapted into the hit HBO series by the same name earlier this year, announced that it would cancel development of its long-anticipated online multiplayer version of the game.
“We realize many of you have been anticipating news around the project that we’ve been calling The Last of Us Online,” the developer, Naughty Dog, said in the announcement Thursday. “There’s no easy way to say this: We’ve made the incredibly difficult decision to stop development on that game.”
The studio said the decision to drop the game had come after it became clear that it would have needed to commit resources “for years to come,” at the expense of future single-player games.
Naughty Dog said it was faced with two options: to “become a solely live service games studio or continue to focus on single-player narrative games that have defined Naughty Dog’s heritage.” It chose the second option.
Work on The Last of Us Online started at the same time Naughty Dog began development on the single-player follow-up, The Last of Us Part II.
That game was released in 2020.
Anxious fans of the video game got an inkling that The Last of Us Online was in trouble after the developer shared an update in May.
“We’re incredibly proud of the job our studio has done so far, but as development has continued we’ve realized what is best for the game is to give it more time,” the update read.
The Last of Us follows a bereaved father and a teenage girl as the unlikely pair traverses a postapocalyptic America ravaged by the global outbreak of a zombifying fungal infection.
The plot was critically acclaimed after the game’s release in 2013, and the 2023 television adaptation starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey earned two dozen Emmy Award nominations.
The death of The Last of Us Online was a particular disappointment to fans of The Last of Us Factions, a limited in-game online multiplayer experience that was available in certain releases of the Last of Us game.
Naughty Dog’s announcement drew a mixed reaction from the gaming community online.
Some agreed that the studio was better off focusing on new single-player games, while others questioned the studio’s apparent lack of foresight.