The Last of Us Multiplayer Has Been Canceled by Naughty Dog as the Studio Moves Away from Live Service Gaming

The Last of Us Online is officially dead.

SUMMARY

  • After years of development, Naughty Dog has canceled its The Last of Us multiplayer title.
  • The PlayStation studio has chosen to continue focusing on narrative-driven single-player experiences.
  • The canceled project is the latest setback in Sony’s live service push.
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After years of development, Naughty Dog has scrapped the standalone multiplayer title set in the universe of The Last of Us. In a statement on its website, the studio announced it had “made the incredibly difficult decision to stop development” on the game it has been calling The Last of Us Online.

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Instead of focusing its team’s resources on creating ongoing content for years to come, it will stick to what the studio has been revered for in the past: narrative-driven single-player experiences. The announcement marks the latest stumbling block in Sony’s planned push into live service games.

Development on The Last of Us Multiplayer Title Has Stopped

<em>The Last of Us Online</em> was supposed to be an ambitious live service title.
The Last of Us Online was supposed to be an ambitious live service title.

The online game fans called Factions, based on the multiplayer mode from the original 2013 game, had been in the works since developing Part 2, which went into development in 2017.

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In a post on its website, Naughty Dog revealed it had recently recognized the “massive scope” of its ambitious project and the number of resources it would have taken to launch and support an online service game for years. This would have come at the cost of narrative-driven single-player titles the team has been revered for.

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.

In favor of its blockbuster single-player experiences, the studio chose the latter and canceled development on the online title it has described as “unique” with “tremendous potential.”

The game was officially announced at Summer Game Fest in 2022, but besides some concept art, no footage had been revealed. In celebration of the series’ 10th anniversary, the studio had teased in January that more details including “some fun surprises” would be shown at some point this year.

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Naughty Dog Keeps Single-Player Focus as Sony’s Live Service Push Stumbles

The studio released concept art but hadn’t revealed any gameplay of the standalone multiplayer title.
The studio released concept art but hadn’t revealed any gameplay of the standalone multiplayer title.

Sony acquired Destiny maker Bungie in 2022 as part of its long-term plan to push into the live service gaming space. In a “rigorous portfolio review” earlier this year, Bungie was tasked to take a closer look at the planned games.

Reportedly, various projects were subsequently scaled back due to quality concerns, including Naughty Dog’s online game.

Following Bungie’s negative feedback, the studio announced in May that the title was still in development but would “need more time.” Rumors about the project being on ice amid staff layoffs surfaced in the preceding months, leading many to assume it was already dead.

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However, just last month, the multiplayer game director revived hopes by subtly confirming the game was still in active development. These hopes can now be put to rest.

The Last of Us Online was only one of several planned online games. Sony had announced it would be releasing 12 live service titles by March 2026.

This push isn’t shaping up as planned, as the company had to drastically scale back and delay half of the scheduled online games.

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Naughty Dog has made its decision and will stick to its guns by focusing on the single-player narrative experiences that made the studio popular in the first place. Despite the cancelation after years of work, the Uncharted maker draws a positive conclusion, claiming the experience would benefit the studio.

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 ends its announcement stating that the team has “more than one ambitious, brand new single player game” in the works, giving fans something to look forward to despite the project cancelation. The developer will be launching The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered, featuring a roguelike mode and “Lost Levels” as early as January.

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Written by Lisa Kamlot

Articles Published: 82

Lisa is a passionate video game content writer with an insatiable appetite for all things gaming and an avid movie enthusiast. When she’s not diving into virtual worlds, she’s riding waves as a dedicated surfer. She’s always on a quest for adventure – both in the digital realm and IRL.