Neil Druckmann pushes back on controversial Naughty Dog comments, shows Sony edited his words

Naughty Dog studio head and The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann has been in hot water lately following a controversial interview with Sony. Now, however, he’s stated that several of his answers were cut down and taken out of context, including a lofty prediction about the studio’s next game.

This all began after a Sony interview with Druckmann a few days ago. The company will occasionally put these out to showcase some of the talent at the many, many studios under their banner, but Druckmann’s stood out for a few reasons. The veteran game director went to bat for AI in game development, as well as apparently declaring that Naughty Dog’s next game will “[redefine] mainstream perceptions of gaming.”

Nathan Drake looking surprised with Sully in the back.
Naughty Dog has previously stated its next game won’t be The Last Of Us 3. Uncharted 5, maybe? Image via Naughty Dog

That latter statement sounds like something you’d hear from Hideo Kojima on a bad day—but in Kojima’s defense, he did literally invent the stealth genre. The backlash has been pronounced, not just for the AI advocacy but for Druckmann apparently getting a little too big for his britches, especially since Naughty Dog games have been following more or less the same formula for more than 15 years.

Admittedly, these answers do seem to be in character for Druckmann, who famously said that Naughty Dog “doesn’t use the word ‘fun’” when developing games, but he’s since asserted on X that his originally far longer answers were cut down and recontextualized for brevity’s sake.

That answer about redefining mainstream perceptions of gaming, for instance? In its original form, it was about introducing people to the world of modern gaming through transmedia projects like the Fallout or The Last of Us TV shows, thus redefining the perception of gaming away from something reserved for nerds in basements and toward the kind of high-budget cinematic experiences that are growing increasingly common. All of this was lost in Sony’s edit, however, making it seem just a little like Druckmann saw himself as the new god of gaming.

Notably, this answer was the only one Druckmann provided the uncut version of, and he left his stance on generative AI in video games unaddressed. In the interview, Druckmann heaps praise on AI, saying it will “revolutionize how content is created” and that it will allow creators to “bring their visions to life” without all the sticky hurdles of actually paying human creatives for their work. It could just be a coping mechanism in light of the recent cutbacks faced by Naughty Dog.

Perhaps this take was more nuanced at one point, but if a version of that answer does exist, it’s now sitting on the cutting room floor.

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