Boycott The Last of Us Part II

Boycott The Last of Us Part II

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Nearly 7 years ago, a video game was released that impacted millions of players with its well-written narrative and characters. That game is obviously The Last of Us, which received amazing reviews and won countless awards including being named "Game of the Year" by D.I.C.E Awards, NAVGTR Awards, SXSW Gaming Awards, British Academy Video Games Awards, and many others. It had an amazing story accompanied by stellar voice actors, animations, graphics, and gameplay. The sequel to the game, The Last of Us Part II, is set to release on June 19th, 2020, but has been met with an enormous amount of criticism due to three main issues.

  • The first issue is how Naughty Dog, the developer of both games mentioned above, has treated their employees and contracted workers. Many unanimous employees have spoken out about the negative work culture and environment at Naughty Dog, discussed in an article by Jason Schreier on Kotaku. Employees have been working very long hours for years developing this game due to impossible deadlines set by management. The overall message from management has been to "get the job done at all costs." A quote from the article that shows just how much employees dislike this environment is "Of the 20 non-lead designers in the credits of 2016’s Uncharted 4, a whopping 14—70 percent—are no longer at the studio, which has had wide-ranging effects on the development of The Last of Us II and led to questions about the continued viability of the Naughty Dog approach." The article has tons of great information that I do not have enough space to cover in this amount of space. Naughty Dog and Sony have both refused to comment on any acquisitions made about this. A former employee, Jonathon Cooper, said this about Naughty Dog, "The reason I left is because I only want to work with the best,” he tweets. “That is no longer Naughty Dog. Their reputation for crunch within LA is so bad it was near impossible to hire seasoned contract game animators to close out the project. As such we loaded up on film animators.” Because of this culture, a reportedly disgruntled employee has leaked tons of content from the game online for everyone to see, which leads me to my next main issue.
  • The second main issue is due to the leaked content. From the cutscenes, gameplay, and images leaked from the game, I and many others are very disappointed, to say the least. From what has been leaked, the plot is much different and ruins a lot of the character development from the first game. It appears that Neil Druckmann and his team chose to go for "shock value" and "edge", instead of writing a story that was congruent with the first game. In the next paragraph I will mention a few of the widely spread spoilers, so avoid reading it if you do not want to know.
  • The player will switch in between playing Ellie and a new character Abby, who is the antagonist of Ellie and Co. At some point in the story, Abby brutally murders fan favorite Joel and a new character, Jesse. Apparently there is a mission where you control Abby and fight Ellie and her love interest Dina. From the leaked cutscene it appears that you murder Dina and Ellie. This story is supposed to show why revenge is never a good thing and that Ellie and Joel were actually evil for a lot of their actions in the previous game. This plot is a slap in the face of fans who have waited years to see their favorite characters return. The writers wanted to subvert expectations, but instead, have ruined the characters and story we all adore. Because of this leak, many long-time fans have stated they will no purchase this new installment.
  • The third main issue that many fans have had is the release date, which has been pushed backed multiple times. It was originally set to release on February 21, 2020, but then it was moved back to May 29th, 2020. Then with the ongoing pandemic, which was not in their control, it was delayed indefinitely. Since the leaks have poured out, it has been set to release June 19th, 2020. All of these changes have angered fans, especially fans who pre-ordered the game early. Both Naughty Dog and Sony mishandled this entire situation, which directly correlates to the leak and me starting this petition with more complaints and gameplay being leaked.

Before I sum this up, I want to address something very clearly. 95% of the people complaining about this game have no problem with there being LGBT+ characters in the game. I have absolutely no problem with that. It was even hinted that Ellie was likely attracted to women in the Left Behind DLC for The Last of Us. A popular narrative that is being brought up by many defenders of Naughty Dog is that everyone angry about it is a misogynist or against LGBT+ Rights, which is blatantly wrong. We are angry due to mishandling and abuse of the employees, plot, and release date.

Due to all of these issues mentioned, I encourage to not purchase The Last of Us Part II, to show all parties involved that they must handle a loved franchised much better than this. The final thing I want to say is this is not a message of hate to Naughty Dog, Playstation, Sony, and all of the employees involved. This is a message of disappointment. We are disappointed in how you have treated your employees and contracted workers. We are disappointed in how you have mishandled the release date. We are disappointed in how you have destroyed the character development built in the first installment. We are disappointed in how you have chosen to subvert expectations instead of writing a logically narrative. We are disappointed in how you have destroyed something we all adored and loved dearly.