Naughty Dog has become the latest developer to make surprise job cuts, with their The Last Of Us multiplayer game seemingly worse affected.

Something very odd is going on in the video games industry at the moment. Only yesterday we reported on a wave of apparently unconnected job cuts and redundancies in both the UK and US and today there’s reports of similar issues at The Last Of Us developer Naughty Dog.

At least 25 staff are reported to have been laid off, with remaining staff apparently being told to ‘keep the news quiet’ – which obviously hasn’t happened.

The cuts are from a variety of different areas, including art, QA, and production, and seem to be primarily related to the mysterious The Last Of Us multiplayer game, which Naughty Dog hasn’t mentioned again in over a year now.

Supposedly, Naughty Dog has cut the contracts short for a number of external developers, but has offered no severance pay – which isn’t a great incentive for people to not start talking.

Sony has not confirmed the layoffs but according to Kotaku no permanent staff have been involved, with the studio employing around 400 overall.

Curiously, there’s still no suggestion that the multiplayer game has been cancelled entirely, although that is beginning to look inevitable.

It’s long been assumed that the game is the first of Sony’s promised 10 live service titles, to be released by 2026, but that’s never been confirmed and the lack of details on any of the other games has made it a mystery as to whether that’s still Sony’s plan.

What’s also a mystery is why all these redundancies are happening at the same time. 25 from Naughty Dog might not seem that many but Epic Games recently cut almost 900 staff and Embracer Group has been making major cutbacks across multiple studios.

There doesn’t seem to be one single explanation for it all, but one commonality is likely to be studios that took on extra staff during lockdown, when demand for video games greatly increased, and are now cutting back as things return to normal.

The recent spate of acquisitions and consolidations is also a factor for a number of the affected companies, but whether there’s some other issue at work beyond that is currently unclear.

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