While Neil Druckmann, one of the studio’s key players, has the concept for a third The Last of Us, the new direction of the IP could lead Naughty Dog down a dead end.
Although Naughty Dog has been a Sony studio for nearly three decades, not everyone knows the team for Crash Bandicoot or Jak. The studio is more likely to be remembered for Uncharted or The Last of Us. The latter was a huge influence on story-driven third-person games, as Ellie and Joel essentially kicked off the genre’s renaissance in 2013. While it didn’t feature much shooting, Sony Santa Monica’s 2018 God of War may have been made possible by the success of The Last of Us.
Since then, The Last of Us has gotten its second installment (and its PlayStation 5 facelift), a remake of the first installment (the PC port of which was released in a horribly weak state), and the first season of the series adaptation on HBO. For the third installment, Naughty Dog is not afraid to innovate and take risks. Putting all their eggs in the post-apocalyptic basket could have unexpected, longer-term consequences. 2016’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was the last big game from that IP, and since then Naughty Dog has been identified with The Last of Us, but it’s going to be hard for them to create a new IP.
Back in December, the studio announced that they had more than one ambitious, brand-new single-player game in the works, so there’s at least one other project in development alongside The Last of Us 3. This would be a diversification for Naughty Dog, meaning they would not have just one IP tied to them. The studio’s approach to storytelling, toughness in decision making, and attention to detail could be applied to anything, and hopefully not just one franchise…