Early this week, somebody kicked up a hellstorm on the internet by leaking videos including major narrative details—including the ending—for The Last of Us Part II. Rumors, conjecture, claims, and reports began flying around, blaming everyone from a disgruntled Naughty Dog employee to an upset contract QA tester. Sony has finally confirmed that The Last of Us Part II leaker was not actually affiliated with Naughty Dog or Sony, striking down the narrative that it was a dev (or group of devs) upset about the indefinite delay of the game.
Sony confirmed the report to GamesIndustry.biz, simply telling the site that an investigation had “identified the primary individuals responsible for the leaks,” and they were not affiliated with Sony or Naughty Dog. The publisher declined to comment further as the investigation is still ongoing.
The Last of Us Part II was delayed indefinitely back in April, moving out of its May 29 release date due to logistical concerns with physical shipments surrounding the ongoing pandemic. The leak happened early this week and Sony was quick to announce a new release date for The Last of Us Part II, surprisingly only three weeks after its original date. Numerous reports and narratives suggested it was an employee who leaked the game. The story seemed to change with every retelling—contract employee mad about being furloughed, disgruntled dev upset about the delay, etc.—but none of the claims held up under the burden of proof, instead fitting a narrative of what people wanted to say about the game and Naughty Dog as a studio. Given recent reports about crunch culture at Naughty Dog, this served as merely an opportunity for some people to vilify the developer.
It’s unknown if we’ll ever get more information about where the leak originated. With the investigation ongoing and as big of an impact as the leak had, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sony pursue legal action against those responsible. What we can at least put to rest for now is the idea that a hard-working developer would be disgruntled enough to spoil the entire experience for the fans and the studio. While there may be a conversation to be had around working conditions at the studio, the story of the leak should not be conflated with Naughty Dog’s crunch culture.