The Last of Us multiplayer game has been cancelled. In a blog post, developer Naughty Dog confirmed that the development on the promised online experience within the post-apocalyptic universe, which it was calling ‘The Last of Us Online,’ has been stopped. The astonishing news comes just a month after game director Vinit Agarwal assured fans that the project was still happening despite the numerous reported setbacks, including the laying off of 25 employees. One can’t simply release a live-service game into the wild and expect it to thrive. It desperately needs post-launch content for years to come, indirectly impacting a studio which is otherwise known for creating memorable single-player narratives.
“The multiplayer team has been in pre-production with this game since we were working on The Last of Us Part II — crafting an experience we felt was unique and had tremendous potential,” the post reads. “As the multiplayer team iterated on their concept for The Last of Us Online during this time, their vision crystalized, the gameplay got more refined and satisfying, and we were enthusiastic about the direction in which we were headed.” Naughty Dog then had to pick between two choices: become a live-service studio and feed into Sony PlayStation’s long-term monopoly-making plan (crafted by Jim Ryan) or focus on what the team is good at and create well-received story games. Clearly, the developer chose the latter path and has claimed that it’s got multiple titles in the works — one of which is presumed to be The Last of Us Part III.
This change in gears goes in line with a report from May, where Naughty Dog scaled back development on The Last of Us Online, to reassess its quality and long-term viability as the massive task at hand became clearer. You see, Sony got Destiny maker Bungie to evaluate its live-service slate and it brought up some concerns regarding TLOU multiplayer’s ability to keep players engaged for a long period. No gameplay footage was ever released to the public eye and all we got was an announcement during the Summer Game Fest 2022 and some concept art for the disease-ridden world, which is reminiscent of San Franciso — an area cut off from the main storyline to introduce a host of new NPCs. It started life as an additional game mode for The Last of Us Part 2 but was then separated to flourish as its own thing with high ambitions.
Last month, Sony halved the number of live-service games it planned to launch by March 2026 — going down from 12 to six titles — though it’s unclear whether that count included The Last of Us Online. Meanwhile, The Last of Us Part II is getting a remaster on January 19, featuring enhancements for the PS5 and a roguelite mode pitting you into randomised encounters against desperate survivors and the infected, as you play as familiar characters from the franchise, including Joel, Ellie, and Abby.