The Last of Us Part II developer Naughty Dog has issued a statement condemning harassment after several members of the creative team were subjected to abuse and hateful messages. Since the game’s launch on June 19th, members of the team, including co-director Neil Druckmann and voice actor Laura Bailey, have posted several examples of abusive, and often violent, messages sent their way. Yesterday, the studio made a statement in support of their staff.
“Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast,” the studio posted on Twitter. “Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behavior and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.”
The controversy started even before the game launched, thanks to a massive leak that revealed several key story moments, including the death of a beloved character. This was followed by more innocuous things like review bombing, all the way up to hateful and violent messages directed at specific members of the team.
Druckmann, for instance, posted a selection of anti-Semitic messages he received, noting, “You can love or hate the game and share your thoughts about it. Unfortunately too many of the messages I’ve been getting are vile, hateful, and violent.” Meanwhile, Bailey, who voiced Abby, one of TLOU2’s main characters, received a number of disturbing death threats. “Sometimes this just gets a little overwhelming,” she wrote. In response, Druckmann said, “Unfortunately this is now the cost of making popular entertainment that challenges conventions.”
Despite the controversy, TLOU2 has proven to be a major blockbuster for Sony; the company says that it’s the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive to date, moving 4 million copies in its first three days of availability.