After indefinitely delaying the game, Sony announced a June 19 release date for the highly anticipated “The Last of Us Part II.” What should have been a momentous occasion was soured when large portions of the game got leaked to the public.
A Naughty Dog employee reportedly leaked information to the game regarding story details and character roles. When this happened, websites and YouTube personalities alike jumped at the opportunity to tell the masses about the story, how they liked the development of the characters, and so on. The early reaction from those who have talked about the leaks has not been extremely positive. Multiple YouTube personalities said they would not buy the game because the story was garbage and encouraged the masses to do so through their clickbait videos.
Naughty Dog went into damage control as soon as possible, though a lot of damage had already been done. This is due to the other major concern talked about as a result of this incident: the problem of crunch times plaguing the industry.
Being a game developer sounds like a fun job. You get to create new, exciting adventures and work with beloved franchises that you are incredibly passionate about. Recently, though, numerous stories have been reported on the brutal working conditions many studios deal with in order to get games released on time, especially regarding the excessive overtime needed to work for little to no extra compensation.
Former Kotaku writer Jason Schrier has written numerous articles and books about the difficult process of game development, and when he interviewed various Naughty Dog employees for an article on the development of “The Last of Us Part II,” many individuals cited the strenuous working conditions at the company. One developer even commented that “This game is really good, but at a huge cost to the people [working on it].”
There is a strong likelihood those conditions caused one of the employees to snap, and, rather than discuss the problem with management, decide to leak a lot of content pertaining to the upcoming game to the Internet, possibly knowing the potential backlash that would surface regarding the game or the culture around it.
Leaks are a common occurrence, but this is the first time the leak originated from within the studio and was done out of spite. Imagine if the “Half Life 2” leak from years ago was not the result of some hacker, but a disgruntled Valve employee? What does this say about the company involved that someone working on a game for years would grow so bitter over it that they would leak it?
Game developers need proper working conditions, but for some reason, the industry has yet to input standards and working regulations for what should be deemed an “ethical working space.” If game development is going to continue to be a nightmare for studios, then something needs to be done and soon.
If you are someone who is curious to see what was leaked, don’t look it up. The game comes out next month, so ignore the clickbait YouTube videos by talentless hacks and just wait to experience the game yourself. At the same time, however, look into the arguments being made over crunch time in the industry. Gaming companies need to figure out how to fix the problem of laborious development cycles if they want to ensure the best quality for games to come. Creating video games should be a fun experience driven by a team with passion, not a sweatshop which mentally and physically exhausts those working in it.