Already postponed from February to May, The Last of Us Part II will have to wait again before pointing the nose: Naughty Dog yesterday announced that its next title was postponed to an unknown date due to the logistical problems arising from the Coronavirus crisis. An explanation on which it is necessary to bring some clarifications, to better understand why this choice concerns The Last of Us and not certain games released before, but also why it will probably not be the only title concerned in the weeks and months to come.
First, several elements should be ruled out: the title has not been postponed due to a new delay in its development, a potential reworking linked to recent controversies over the teams’ crunch, or even the passage of telework employees (although the organization of this last point may have caused a slight delay). The official reason is indeed the logistical problem caused by the current COVID-19 crisis, a point which has moreover been confirmed by several members of the studio to Jason Schreier, journalist at Kotaku. But the latter also evokes an “economic” decision, which turns out to be closely linked to that purely “logistical”.
The official press release of Naughty Dog
As you have probably seen, the release of The Last of Us Part II has been delayed. We are sure that this news will disappoint you as much as it will disappoint us. We then wanted to contact you to give you a little more information.
The good news is that we are almost finished developing The Last of Us Part II. We are in the process of fixing our latest bugs.
However, even with the end of development, we were faced with the reality that due to logistics beyond our control, we could not launch The Last of Us Part II as planned. We want to make sure everyone can play The Last of Us Part II at roughly the same time, making sure we do everything we can to keep the best experience possible. It meant delaying the game until we could resolve these logistical problems. We were disappointed with this decision, but it was the best thing for all of our players. We hope it won’t be a long delay and we will keep you posted as soon as we have new information to share. We wish you all, your families and friends, good health.
Stay safe! The Naughty Dog team via Twitter
The last months of work on developing an AAA are no longer devoted to creating environments, finalizing a script or implementing new elements, but rather to technical polishing. Less than two months before its release, The Last of Us Part II is therefore a finished game… in terms of its content. The teams (and in particular the QA testers) have therefore already been tracking the bugs for many weeks and correcting them in order to release a version as devoid of technical problems as possible. It’s only after this step is complete that a title becomes “Gold,” and turns out to be ready for the last step, large-scale manufacturing of physical versions.
A stage that The Last of Us Part II could probably have reached in late April or early May, but not before. But the Coronavirus crisis obviously has consequences for the production that we had already mentioned in an article published a few weeks ago: if the production chains of different computer hardware were then impacted to a lesser extent, the trend could worsen. in the coming weeks. The consequences would then be more than obvious, since a title as awaited as The Last of Us Part II might not offer enough physical copies available to its public. And even if that were the case, the explosion in the number of COVID-19 cases in its largest markets – Europe and the United States – will potentially go hand in hand with increasingly restrictive exit measures. , which will not encourage players to go out and buy a version.
All of this remains unclear, but it is precisely the lack of long-term visibility that makes any exit from the game riskybecause the consequences of not being able to properly produce or market its physical versions would be disastrous commercially. The solution of a fully dematerialized sale also seems obvious, but on the one hand it comes up against connection problems which still govern many territories, and on the other hand the importance of the attachment of console players to their physical versions. In France, in 2019, physical video games still represent 43% of the turnover of the console ecosystem, according to the study published by the S.E.L.L in February 2020. It is not insane to think that a part of the players wishing to buy a physical copy would be ready to switch to a dematerialized version in such circumstances, but it is just as reasonable to imagine that a non-negligible part of these 43 % will not.
Titles such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Resident Evil 3 Remake or Final Fantasy VII Remake, just as expected, have not yet been postponed while the crisis has already affected many countries for several weeks. The reason is simpler: the restrictive measures potentially having an influence on game production chains were not yet strong enough to justify a postponement of the titles concerned. The impact was however felt on one of the three titles mentioned, Final Fantasy VII Remake, which decided … to advance the distribution of its physical versions to resellers on the European and Australian markets, even if it means taking the risk that they will release the game to the general public before the agreed date. A risky idea, but one that allows it to better distribute the dispatch of its versions across the globe, in a complicated logistics context.
The Last of Us Part II is not the only title affected by a postponement: Marvel’s Iron Man VR has also been postponed to an unknown date when it was expected for May 15. In general, the releases for April should not be too much impacted, but we should expect more announcements of postponements for the titles expected in May and beyond.