‘The Last Of Us’ Developer Naughty Dog Reportedly Cuts 25 Positions, Unaffected Staff Allegedly Told Not To Publicly Discuss The Layoffs
According to a new report, The Last of Us development studio Naughty Dog has followed in the footsteps of its most recent protagonist and taken a golf club to its own employee base, both by abruptly axing 25 positions across the company and by allegedly pressuring those lucky enough to have survived the cuts to refrain from publicly discussing the situation.
This shake-up to one of PlayStation’s most touted first-party developers was first revealed on October 3rd, courtesy of two alleged insiders who spoke to Kotaku’s Ethan Gach.
These insiders asserted that following these layoffs being internally announced to Naughty Dog employees last week, the Uncharted series developer proceeded to downsize at least 25 of their over 400-member team.
Though a majority of these cuts are said to have been made to the studio’s quality assurance testing team, said sources noted that other departments ranging from art to production were also impacted.
However, while these cuts were somewhat wide-ranging, Kotaku’s sources noted that none of the company’s full-time staff were caught in the crossfire.
Further, the insiders also claimed that not only was Naughty Dog waiting to officially end the relevant contracts until the end of October, thus requiring those affected to close out the month under the developer’s employ, but they would be offering absolutely zero severance pay to those soon-to-be-laid-off individuals.
As to why it had taken nearly a week for knowledge of this shake-up to become public, the sources ultimately informed Gach that “remaining employees are being pressured to keep the news quiet.”
Notably, Naughty Dog is far from the first, or even one of the first developers this year to have undergone a massive staffing reduction.
Since the start of the New Year, 2023 has seen such developers as Epic Games, Electronic Arts, Riot Games, and even CD Projekt Red, as well as numerous video game news publications like GameSpot, Giant Bomb, and Waypoint, reckon with their rising production costs by cutting a number of their own employees.
What does this mean for the future of the video game industry? Truthfully, only time will tell. There are too many moving parts, behind-the-scenes actions, and socioeconomic ‘X’ factors to give a definitive answer.
However, an educated guess would suggest that these staffing cuts are indicative of the fact that the ‘Hollywood-esque’ ambitions of larger Triple-A studios have wreaked havoc on the medium.
From hastily-thrown-out releases full of nickel-and-dimed monetization mechanics to multi-million dollar regurgitations of all of the MCU’s worst writing quirks, thanks to the corporate greed of such devs as Ubisoft or the aforementioned Electronic Arts, the last two console generations have given players more than enough condescending reasons to feel burnt out on ‘big’ releases.
With fewer and fewer players allowing themselves to be suckered by a given video game’s marketing hype, companies are finding it harder and harder to recoup their egregious production budgets, thus leading them to make such drastic measures in an attempt to ‘stem the bleeding’.
However, such measures sadly amount to nothing more than temporary financial stopgaps.
Without a significant change to the industry’s operating philosophies, particularly in the areas of monetization, sociopolitical messaging, and overall self-respect for their own work, the industry will continue to bleed and bleed until there’s nothing left for it to do but keel over – just like it did in 1983.