Naughty Dog has fired 25 contract developers, most of whom are quality assurance contractors.
Despite hit ratings for the recent HBO adaptation of The Last Of Us, a multiplayer spin-off for the zombie shooter based on the first game’s Factions mode has struggled in development. Bloomberg reported in June that Sony had diverted resources away from the project following a negative internal review by Bungie, the recently acquired live-service powerhouse behind Destiny 2. One source now tells Kotaku that the multiplayer game, while not completely canceled, is basically on ice at this point.
The video game industry is currently facing a big wave of layoffs, and even contract developers at PlayStation first-party studio Naughty Dog aren’t immune. Kotaku has learned that the maker of hits like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and The Last of Us Part II has begun cutting contracts short for dozens of workers.
Layoffs were communicated internally at the Santa Monica, California-based studio last week, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Departments ranging from art to production were impacted, but the majority of those laid off worked in quality assurance testing. The sources said at least 25 developers were part of the downsizing. Full-time staff do not appear to have been part of the cuts. Naughty Dog’s headcount was over 400 as of July.
It’s unclear why these cuts have been made aside from the usual reason (saving money), and there’s also no word as to whether this has anything to do with Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us multiplayer project. Back in May a report from Bloomberg claimed that development on the project had been scaled back after Destiny developer Bungie assessed the game, only leaving a small group to continue working on it while Naughty Dog figured out how to proceed.
In July, Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells also retired after 25 years at the studio, leaving The Last of Us co-director Neil Druckmann as the sole president.