It's clear that Naughty Dog put a great deal of effort into filling Uncharted 4: A Thief's End with minute details to make its world come alive and feel realistic. But in one specific case, that effort appears to have backfired.
[Note: There are no story spoilers for Uncharted 4 in this article. We promise.]
The fourth chapter of Uncharted 4, "A Normal Life," takes place partly inside the New Orleans house in which Nathan Drake and Elena Fisher live together. The design of the home's interior exhibits an incredible attention to detail — with little touches like Post-it notes from Elena — that makes the place feel truly lived in.
Playing as Nate, you can explore the two main floors of the house, as well as the attic above. An office on the second floor seems to be the place Elena, a journalist, calls home. She mentions later to Nate that she's working on an article about Bangkok, and one of the items that Nate can interact with is a travel guide for the Thai capital that's simply called Bangkok Travel Guide.
You can pick up the book and flip it over. The back cover features a blurb about the guide, as well as a note from publisher Curious Adventurer: "You can also visit us on the web!" The website listed is http://www.bangkokthetravelguide.com.
As you'll see if you click on that link, the URL doesn't lead to an in-universe website that Naughty Dog set up, which is something that game developers and producers of films and TV shows often do. Instead, it redirects to a post on the Uncharted subreddit by a user named dacvak.
It turns out that nobody owned the domain before Uncharted 4 launched on May 10, which dacvak noticed when he tried going to the website.
"Checked it out and no one had even purchased that domain, so I grabbed it for fun," said dacvak. "I have zero plans for it, and will probably just link it back to ND's website."
Naughty Dog caught a break here; it's a good thing that a well-meaning individual like dacvak bought the domain. Imagine that an internet troll snatched it up and had it redirect to, say, a porn site or a page with malware — that would've been pretty embarrassing for Naughty Dog and Sony.
We've reached out to Naughty Dog and Sony for comment, and to ask if the studio knowingly left the URL in the game without buying the domain. We'll update this article with any information we receive. For more on Uncharted 4, read our review.
Update (May 24): Naughty Dog has since patched out the Bangkok Travel Guide URL, according to images posted on Twitter over the weekend. This change presumably came in the version 1.04 update to Uncharted 4, which the studio released May 20, although the patch notes do not mention the URL snafu.
Naughty Dog and Sony have not responded to Polygon's requests for comment, neither on the original story about the URL's existence nor on its removal from Uncharted 4. This contrasts with a similar situation regarding Naughty Dog's previous game, The Last of Us, where the studio acknowledged that developers inadvertently put phone numbers for a phone-sex hotline in the game.