Skip to main content

Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann claims he didn't say his next game "could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming"

"Some of my words, context, and intent were unfortunately lost."

Nathan Drake during a sword fight in Uncharted 4
Image credit: Naughty Dog

Update Saturday 25th May 2024: Naughty Dog co-studio head, Neil Druckmann, has pushed back on claims he said Naughty Dog's next project "could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming", saying his "words, context, and intent were unfortunately lost" in an interview with Sony.

In an image appended to his message, Druckmann highlighted the eyebrow-raising phrase, "[Naughty Dog's next game] could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming", and then appended his original response to the interview question "is there a personal vision or dream you hope to see realised in the realm of entertainment", which I've written out in full below:

"Well, I've been very lucky, in that I've already had that. I got the chance to make several of my dream projects. I am working on a new one right now. And it's maybe the most excited I've been for a project yet. I can't talk about it or our bosses will get very mad at me. And I guess in general, there is something happening now that I think is very cool. Which is there's a new appreciation for gaming that I've never seen before. Like when I was growing up, gaming was more of a kid's thing. Now it's clearly for everyone. But it's like, if you're a gamer, you know about the potential of games, and non-gamers, they don't really know what they're missing out on.

"But my hope was, when we made The Last of Us as a TV show that we could change that. And why I became so involved with it. I wanted so badly for it to be hood, because I wanted this to happen, which is like someone who will watch the show and really like it. And fall in love with those characters the way that we have fallen in love with those characters and their story. And then realise at the end, 'wait, that's based on a video game?' and then go and check out the game and just seen the wealth of narratives and everything that's happening in games. So now I feel like there's kind of a spotlight on gaming. And you know, Fallout just came out. And that's a big success for Amazon. And I find that really exciting. Not because games need to be movies, or they need to be TV shows, but I think it just kind of opens the eyes of a bunch of people that just weren't aware of the kind of experiences that exist in games.

"I think right now we've hit a tipping point where it's about to take off when people realise, 'Oh my god, there's all these incredible moving experiences in games!' So, I'm not only excited for this game that we're making – and it's, it's something really fresh for us – but I'm also excited to see how the world reacts to it. Because of The Last of Us, and the success of the show, people even outside of gaming are looking at us to see what it is that we put out next. I'm very excited to see what the reaction for this thing will be – and I've already said too much about it. I'll stop there. So, you're asking me for my dream projects. I've been very lucky to have worked on my favourite games with incredible collaborators and I'm very thankful for them."

"In the gentlest way, Naughty Dog creative chief Neil Druckmann is publicly showing that Sony put words in his mouth, and that he didn't say the much criticised line that ND's next game "could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming," wrote journalist Stephen Totilo on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Original story follows.

Original story, 24th May: The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 creative director Neil Druckmann has said Naughty Dog's next game could "redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming".

In an interview shared today to coincide with Sony's corporate strategy meeting, the studio head was asked about what dream project he would like to see realised. In response, Druckmann said he has been "lucky to work on several dream projects" already, before adding he is "currently excited about a new one".

This undisclosed project, Druckmann said, could be Naughty Dog's "most thrilling yet".

The Last of Us Part 2 Remastered's Roguelike No Return Mode Explained.Watch on YouTube

"There's a growing appreciation for gaming that transcends all age groups, unlike when I was growing up," he elaborated. "This shift is highlighted by our venture into television with The Last of Us, which I hoped would bridge the gap between gamers and non-gamers. The show's success has spotlighted gaming, illustrating the rich, immersive experiences it offers.

"This visibility excites me not only for our current project but for the broader potential of gaming to captivate a global audience. I'm eager to see how this new game resonates, especially following the success of The Last of Us, as it could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming."

While Druckmann's words are vague, it does not seem likely this upcoming project is The Last of Us Part 3. "You have to take risks to find new ideas that connect with audiences, and even though Uncharted was a chart-topping success, it was important for our studio to innovate again with a new franchise like The Last of Us," Druckmann said during the interview. "Many companies would insist on sticking to profitable franchises, but [Sony's] culture and philosophy empower us to pursue new ideas.

"Art requires risk; You can't engineer perfectly and predict how successful it will be. I'm incredibly thankful that [Sony] trusts us to leverage our past successes to explore brand new creative avenues."

There have long been rumours that a third instalment in The Last of Us series will come one day, and Druckmann previously stated the studio had a story outline for Part 3 penned which he hoped "one day can see the light of day". However, nothing has been confirmed to be in development.

Last year Druckmann additionally stated Naughty Dog is open to developing Part 3, but only if "[the team] can come up with a compelling story that has this universal message and statement about love", as it did with Parts 1 and 2.

"With The Last of Us, it's up to us whether we want to continue it or not... If we can't come up with something, we have a very strong ending with Part 2 and that will be the end," Druckmann said at the time.

As for what Naughty Dog could be working on next, previously, there was speculation the studio had its eyes on a fantasy-themed release.

A black and white image of Neil Druckmann
Image credit: Luke Fontana

Elsewhere during today's conference, head of PlayStation Productions and head of product at PlayStation Studios Asad Qizilbash stated he believes games will shift their focus towards more immersive narratives and personalised player experiences in the next decade.

"Technological advancements will enhance emotional depth in games by allowing characters to be much more emotive and expressive, fostering more evocative storytelling," the PlayStation exec said. "That's going to help a whole generation of creators be able to just create so much more emotion in the stories. The focus is going to shift from graphics or visuals to immersive narratives that resonate long after the controller is set down.

"Regarding PlayStation's role in this evolution, I see it as a destination defined by community and a commitment to quality, unexpected and memorable experiences."

When asked what significant advancements he anticipates will have an impact on storytelling across the different forms of media over the coming decade, Qizilbash stated technology will "democratise" it and make it more accessible for creators as a result.

"With the level of fidelity in video games now, there's an opportunity to repurpose assets from games for animation and live-action films, leveraging Sony's volumetric and virtual production capabilities," he said. "Gaming engines like Unreal are expanding beyond games and being used for virtual production, enabling creators to focus on storytelling rather than logistical constraints. This freedom fosters creativity and allows creators to focus on delivering compelling stories.

"Advancements in AI will create more personalised experiences and meaningful stories for consumers. For instance, NPCs (Non Player Characters) in games could interact with players based on their actions, making it feel more personal."

This is something Qizilbash believes is important for younger audiences who "are the first generations that grew up digitally and are looking for personalisation across everything, as well as looking for experiences to have more meaning".

Asad Qizilbash
Image credit: Sony

For more, earlier today Sony shared a video detailing the company's future plans for the next decade, including a look ahead at one possible concept for a futuristic PlayStation controller.

Read this next