You might have heard that The Last of Us came out recently, but was its phenomenal success expected? Yes, and it might mean more to the developer than you think. Naughty Dog has grown from a solid contributor for the gaming industry to, in my humble opinion, its most consistent and greatest developer.
As a fine wine will age magnificently and become more complex over the years, Naughty Dog began with the cheap yet fun party animal Crash Bandicoot and matured into to a finely tuned mixture of honest, beloved characters and world class storytelling complete with notes of moral ambiguity. Players can’t help but analyze and discuss what they’re ingesting and they love it. The question is: what is next on the menu?
If the industry’s trend continues –as it might when you consider sales– then The Last of Us might get a sequel. Truthfully, solely looking at sales for The Last of Us is a mistake, this isn’t a developer stumbling upon some golden goose of a franchise, this is reoccurring excellence.
The title alone didn’t garner numbers, the developer’s prestige sold the game. Take a gander at pre-order numbers, The Last of Us sold incredibly well before gamers knew much about the game. The reputation of the developer carefully crafting titles and customers blindly purchasing their games is testament to gamer’s trust in Naughty Dog. At this point in time, I personally would buy anything Naughty Dog made. I didn’t know a much about The Last of Us besides ‘post-apocalyptic’, ‘zombie-thingys’, ‘cool, beardy guy in plaid’ and ‘badass girl with brick’; I was intrigued. Then, I found that Naughty Dog was making it and I needed it.
I steered clear of any spoilers or nods at story because I didn’t want to ruin in the slightest what I knew would be an experience –not just a great story or that characters I would like, an experience. After playing through the best PlayStation exclusive this generation, if not of all time, I can’t even imagine not buying their next game. There’s no reason not to. If they decided to sh*t on a disc and gold plate it I would buy the sh*t out of that sh*t covered disc, because I know that sh*t would be quality sh*t.
That’s the question at hand, isn’t it? What is Naughty Dog working on? We know that they’re definitely working on a PS4 title, maybe two …man, thinking about what they could do with a machine like the PS4 does things to me. Will it be a sequel to a game like The Last of Us? Perhaps, Uncharted 4? To help move PS4 units an Uncharted 4 could definitely be in the works, but it should be the franchises end. They could have ended the series on a big note [spoilers] provided they went on and actually killed Sully, which undoubtably was the original plan [end spoilers], but there must have been someone at the top of Sony begging for at least one more.
Will Uncharted 4 show a passing of the torch like the inFamous series? Could there be a little Drake? Or will it be featuring our favorite treasure hunter and company once more? At this point we can only speculate Uncharted’s future, still regardless of what decisions are made the franchise is in good hands.
A sequel to The Last of Us would be a financial no-brainer for Sony and Naughty Dog, but I’d be afraid of ruining a good thing. In my mind I’m conflicted: one half says this is should be a stand-alone title, but the other wants to dig deeper into this world. The two side’s only agreement is knowing that Naughty Dog is the only team I would trust to both expand upon and improve such a gem. Still, as Naughty Dog delivers grade-A products time and time again, the confines of money versus artist control seem to fade away for them. Their continued success puts them in the position to have what so many developers dream of; complete control. Because of this newly blossoming power, our curiosity of what a new globe-trotting Uncharted venture or anxiety-filled The Last of Us journey would hold may be postponed.
While not having the same numbers as Polyphony, the respect commanded by Naughty Dog is on par with the studio that can tell Sony “No we aren’t doing that, we’ll do what we want and you’ll get your product when it’s done”. I mean, if Polyphony came out and announced a kart racer I would swim to Japan just to throw myself and my money at the feet of Kazunori Yamauchi.
Obviously, the budding theme here is to trust in Naughty Dog and Sony must absolutely do this by putting aside finances and letting them do what they do best. How could they not? Given this freedom, the world’s best studio would have the opportunity to tell any story, in any setting, by any means that they’d like without restrictions. Sitting in the driver’s seat of your creativity is a dream for any studio (I bet Insomniac knows this well), so who better to give dominion over an idea than your best developer? I’m sure Sony is just as interested to see what Naughty Dog can do without a leash as I am, the possibilities are infinite with such a talented studio. All that I’m sure of in regards to Naughty Dog is that they excite me.
They have a seemingly endless reserve of inspiration to create memories that will and have already kept with me through my life of gaming thus far. Albert Einstein once said that “imagination encircles the world”and Naughty Dog has more than enough imagination to takes us on many, many life changing adventures around it (and beyond).