Neil Druckmann explains how Naughty Dog chose its next unannounced game

Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann has explained the process the studio went through when deciding which game to develop next.

In an interview with Kinda Funny, Druckmann was asked if he felt pressured to make another hit IP like The Last of Us or Uncharted, which Naughty Dog owner Sony could turn into a multimedia franchise and support for years to come.

Druckmann responded by saying that the studio’s success has given it the luxury of being able to choose to work on what it is most passionate about.

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“I’m very lucky that I don’t have to think like that,” he said. “I joined a studio that was already so successful that we could be like prima donnas and just do whatever we wanted. I know not everyone has that privilege, but I don’t take it lightly.

“So at the end of each project, we purposefully explore different projects. Some of them can be a follow-up and then a lot of new ideas, and then we really feel like ‘where are our passions?’ Because that is the fire that must last for years to come.

“And if you pick the wrong project and you get burned by that idea because you weren’t that passionate about it two years into a four-year project, you’re screwed. That’s how, I think, you make everything mediocre – if it makes you lose your excitement.”

Druckmann was unwilling to reveal whether the studio has opted to work on The Last of Us Part 3 or something else.

“I know the fans really want Last of Us Part 3,” he said. “I hear about it all the time and all I can say is that look, we are already working on our next project, so the decision has already been made. I can’t say what it is, but that’s the process that we went through, that we thought a lot about different things and we chose what we were most excited about.

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The Last of Us series has sold over 37 million copies since its debut in 2013 and is currently in the spotlight thanks to the success of an HBO TV adaptation. The show’s debut season finale premiered Sunday and drew a record 8.2 million viewers, according to HBO.

Druckmann recently told BuzzFeed that Naughty Dog had moved on from the Uncharted series and could do the same with The Last of Us should it decide not to continue with a third main series.

Despite the commercial and critical success of the franchise, Druckmann said Sony would not pressure the company to continue the Ellie and Abby story told in 2020’s Last of Us Part 2.

“They’ve supported us every step of the way to follow our passions – which means just because something is successful, people think there’s so much pressure and we should make a sequel. That’s not the case,” he said.

“For us, Uncharted was insanely successful — Uncharted 4 was one of our best-selling games — and we can put our final brushstroke on that story and say we’re done. We go on.

“Likewise, with The Last of Us, it’s up to us whether we want to continue it or not.”

Naughty Dog is also developing a standalone Last of Us multiplayer game, which will feature its own story and a new cast of characters.

Druckmann told Kinda Funny on Monday, “The Last of Us multiplayer game is our next big title. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it later this year and I’m looking forward to it.

“That’s an interesting experience for me personally because it’s the first Last of Us game where I’m not the primary writer, I’m not the director, so I get to see it more from the side and play more of a producer role and more a mentor role, and I find that really exciting, and what the team has put together is so cool.