The Last of Us Online canceled as Naughty Dog didn’t want to ‘become a solely live service games studio’

The Last of Us Part 1 Ellie
(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

Naughty Dog has confirmed that it has stopped development on its multiplayer The Last of Us title - known as The Last of Us Online - after concerns that it would impact the studio’s future single-player games. 

The Last of Us Online entered pre-production during the development of The Last of Us Part 2 (the one that released in 2020), which notably arrived without a multiplayer mode, unlike its predecessor. In a statement shared on the Naughty Dog blog yesterday (December 14), the studio said that the decision to stop development on the title was “incredibly difficult” and added that the developers are “crushed at the studio as we were looking forward to putting it in your hands.” 

According to Naughty Dog, the multiplayer game had “tremendous potential” and as more work was put into it, “we were enthusiastic about the direction in which we were headed.” However, things changed when the studio realized the “massive scope” of what it was trying to achieve.

“In ramping up to full production, the massive scope of our ambition became clear. To release and support The Last of Us Online we’d have to put all our studio resources behind supporting post-launch content for years to come, severely impacting development on future single-player games,” the studio explained. “So, we had two paths in front of us: become a solely live service games studio or continue to focus on single-player narrative games that have defined Naughty Dog’s heritage.

“We are immensely proud of everyone at the studio that touched this project. The learnings and investments in technology from this game will carry into how we develop our projects and will be invaluable in the direction we are headed as a studio,” it continued. “We have more than one ambitious, brand new single-player game that we're working on here at Naughty Dog, and we cannot wait to share more about what comes next when we’re ready.”

At the time of writing, we’re just under a month away from the release of The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered - an improved version of the 2020 sequel made with the PlayStation 5 in mind, complete with improved visuals, DualSense features, and new content. It’s set to launch on January 19, 2024 - be sure to check out our pre-order guide for details on the different editions.

For more games like The Last of Us, be sure to check out our recommendations for the best single-player games, as well as the best PS5 games for an even wider selection.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer, TechRadar Gaming

Catherine is a News Writer for TechRadar Gaming. Armed with a journalism degree from The University of Sheffield, she was sucked into the games media industry after spending far too much time on her university newspaper writing about Pokémon and cool indie games, and realising that was a very cool job, actually. She previously spent 19 months working at GAMINGbible as a full-time journalist. She loves all things Nintendo, and will never stop talking about Xenoblade Chronicles.