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Report: The Last of Us remake coming for PS5, but at a cost to PlayStation morale

Bloomberg report says Sony’s support studio pitched, pushed off, TLOU remake, leading some to quit

The Last of Us collectibles locations guides Image: Naughty Dog/Sony Computer Entertainment America via Polygon
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Fans will be happy to hear The Last of Us is getting a remake for PlayStation 5. But some developers inside Sony aren’t happy with how that came together, or what it means for PlayStation’s vaunted first-party development going forward, according to a report Friday morning from Bloomberg.

The account, by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier, describes how Sony’s Visual Arts Service Group — a support-oriented studio located in San Diego — took on a PS5 remake for 2014’s The Last of Us with approval, but without much support from above, then saw it handed over to original developer Naughty Dog.

The Visual Arts Service Group was then relegated to a support role, as well as assigned to help Naughty Dog complete the delayed The Last of Us Part 2 that launched last summer for PlayStation 4. As a result, the group’s founder left Sony altogether, Bloomberg reports.

Polygon has reached out to a PlayStation representative for additional comment. The company declined to comment for Bloomberg’s report, which does not say when The Last of Us’ PlayStation 5 remake is expected.

Friday’s report describes a senior leadership at PlayStation obsessed with big hits, critically as well as commercially. For example, Bloomberg says Sony Bend Studio’s pitch for a sequel to 2019’s Days Gone was rejected, and part of the studio was told to assist Naughty Dog on two other projects, one of them a new Uncharted game. The Oregon studio is now working on a new game of its own, Bloomberg said.

Naughty Dog has been a Sony-owned studio for nearly 20 years, helming two franchises — Uncharted and The Last of Us — that have generated multiple award-winning titles, as well as television and cinematic adaptations. In one light, deference to a proven hit-maker, especially where its own IP is concerned, is reasonable. But Bloomberg’s story notes that the Visual Arts Service Group took the initiative to develop The Last of Us’ PS5 remake, but only got provisional approval to continue with it, and no budget to hire more developers to make it.

The report comes on the heels of a major shift at Sony’s development arm in Japan. In February, Sony Interactive Entertainment reorganized its Japan Studios team, effectively doing away with the developer (and talent) behind smaller, more experimental PlayStation games like Ape Escape, Knack, Gravity Rush, and LocoRoco. What remains is Team Asobi, the developer behind the Astro Bot series, including the built-in PS5 showcase Astro’s Playroom. That move signaled a shift from more modestly sized games developed in Sony’s home territory to blockbuster Western franchises like God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Horizon, and The Last of Us.

Adaptations are on deck for The Last of Us, as an HBO television series, and Uncharted, as a long-awaited feature film that is set to premiere in February 2022. Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann, the writer and creative director on The Last of Us and its sequel, is an executive producer on the HBO series.