Former IGN writer Jonathon Dornbush, who gave Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us Part II a 10 out of 10 review, has joined the Sony Interactive Entertainment-owned developer, and social media users were quick to weigh in on the situation.
Dornbush shared the good news as soon as his feet were in his new office. “First day on the new job, and I’m absolutely THRILLED to announce I’ve joined the @Naughty_Dog team as Editorial Content Manager. This studio has meant so much to me my entire life, I couldn’t be happier to join such a talented team.”
Replies were filled with many wellwishers, from his new Naughty Dog colleagues, to those he was leaving at IGN. However, it’s Dornbush’s former role as IGN’s PlayStation and Features writer — along with the PlayStation-focused Beyond podcast host — that caught interest.
Under IGN, Dornbush had reviewed The Last of Us Part II, awarding the game a perfect 10 out of 10; a score that labels the title being reviewed as a “Masterpiece.” Becoming the Editor’s Choice, Dornbush had nothing but the highest praise to award the game.
“The Last of Us Part 2 is a masterpiece worthy of its predecessor. Taking strides forward in nearly every way, Ellie steps into the spotlight and carries the sequel in a manner that feels like the culmination of everything that’s made Naughty Dog’s blockbuster storytelling so memorable since the original Uncharted on the PlayStation 3,” Dornbush praised at the time.
“It delivers a layered, emotionally shattering story on top of stealth and action gameplay that improves the first game’s mechanics while integrating a bit more of Uncharted’s greater mobility and action,” he went on.
Dornbush’s glowing review concluded, “But while Part 2 is a thrilling adventure, it still makes time for a stunning, nuanced exploration of the strength and fragility of the human spirit. The PlayStation 4 has one of its best exclusives in one of the generation’s best games.”
The former IGN writer had also reviewed other Sony Interactive Entertainment published titles. These included Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart (9), Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered (9, with 8.7 for the original), Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (9), Astro’s Playroom (8), and God of War (10).
Nonetheless, it was Dornbush’s praise for The Last of Us Part II that caused a stir across social media. The top comment in the thread discussing the oddity on the Kotaku In Action subreddit, from user BottomlessScab, snidely claimed “Years after the fact, and GamerGate is still proven right.”
“We hate kowtowing spineless corporate cronies, but kowtowing spineless corporate cronies are AOK as long as they echo my politics!” asserted SharkOnLegs.
Djent17 simply declared, “This is why I place next to no faith in any reviews I read.”
“That’s why people that still take gaming “journalism” seriously should stop. Their whole job is to suck on the big guy, otherwise they get black listed. And Sony as a whole is infamous for this,” weighed in Just_asking1why.
The user added, “If you are looking for a genuine review, you are not going to find it from these so called “journalists”. Tbh, I think journalism as a whole is a joke, not just for gaming.”
Reddit user TossMySaladBaby echoed other commenters’ sentiment, writing, “It’s just weird how untrustworthy all journalism has become. And it happened so quick. 10/20 years ago I used to buy gaming magazines just for the reviews before spending hard-earned cash on a new game.”
“I’m done with anything Naughty Dog, the Last of Us Part 2 literally set the stage for all this woke crap,” decried RickSanchez1776.
In a fairly eloquently written criticism about the video game industry as a whole, Snackolich explained, “I can understand fans of the game getting jobs at the company. Maybe you’re really active in a game forum or have a Youtube channel. People who are enthusiastic about a game are good hires because they bring that enthusiasm with them.”
The user further opined, “This is not that. This is like a politician who votes in favor of Drugs for Kids, then is hired by the Drugs for Kids Organization. It’s an insult to anyone who bought the game based on this review. And this goes for anyone else who used an editorial or critical job to cater favor with the companies they cover. They are the worst sort of bootlickers and the reason this sub exists.”
“Johnathon Dornbush, you are why Gamergate happened. Own it,” Snackolich concluded.
Some Twitter users were just as scathing, taking to social media to suggest Dornbush’s positive coverage of the game and his new job was rather suspicious.
“I know it’s all fluff and nobody really gives a s—t about gaming journalism… but this kind of incesteous relationship between developers and journalists is disgusting,” read a comment by @iaxx0x17.
“I’m glad that Jonathan found a new job, he’s a nice guy,” @oliver_drk prefaced. “But the old pipeline from commercial review website to videogame company (was the same with Alanah Pearce) raises questions about influence, lobbying and how these two worlds interact with each other.”
“He was always polishing their rifle,” cheekily wrote @replicante90 in response to the news.
“You were already working there, right?” rhetorically pondered @Necromuerte.
Echoing comments by the users above, Twitter user @RibbonGirlArms simply wrote, “Umh…” questioning Naughty Dog’s decision to hire the reviewer who gave the ridiculously divisive The Last of Us Part II a perfect 10.
“C’mon man…” read the tweet by @BannedStFoogie, who also shared a screenshot of Dornbush’s review for IGN.
“You cannot take gaming journalists seriously. Apart from one of two,” decried @StephenDonophan, adding, “The people expected to hold the industry to account are actually auditioning for a job.”
“Another Black Lives Matter / Trans Lives Matter / He/Him joined the Naughty Dog LGBT Team,” said @Truth2544, noting that Dornbush does, indeed, have his pronouns in his Twitter bio, and supports both of the “Lives Matter” movements listed above; at least, as of writing.
“Game journalism maturity is at kindergarten level,” denounced @GermanosPL. “It feels super weird whenever a “journalist” switches sides to the industry he (supposedly) was objectively covering, critiquing, and “holding feet to the fire” of the people he/she will now call friends, colleagues, managers.”