Is Neil Druckmann leaving video games? Here’s what he said

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Neil Druckmann suggested that his days in the game industry are numbered, which carry big implications for Naughty Dog and its wildly popular The Last of Us and Uncharted franchises.

Druckmann has been with Naughty Dog for decades, going from an intern to an executive at the company through his work on Jax and Daxter, Uncharted, and The Last of Us. Uncharted and The Last of Us games didn’t just receive critical acclaim, but served as a launchpad for Druckmann in Hollywood with the film and TV series they respectively spawned. 

But in an interview, he stated that the weight of his role had taken a toll on him. This has him suggesting that he’s not necessarily going to be around the game industry much longer.

Will Neil Druckmann leave Naughty Dog?

Druckmann never said that he would leave the studio or that he would stop creating games. He told rapper Logic that he can envision himself transitioning to something more “lowkey” where he can continue being creative but in a less stressful environment.

In the interview, Druckmann said he “really enjoyed” working on big projects like HBO’s The Last of Us TV show and a Halloween Horror Nights experience at Universal Studios but he doesn’t see himself doing projects of that scale forever. He wants to spend time with his children but wants to keep something around as a creative outlet, citing the approach of famed movie director Quentin Tarantino.

Druckmann also attributes this newfound stress, which he said hasn’t been a constant in his career, to the success of Uncharted 2 itself. The weight of players’ expectations following its release made it hard for him to work with the same drive he had before.

“And you have to think, ‘how do we make it great and how do we do it in a way that doesn’t feel like we’re just repeating ourselves?’ So you always have to make it great and new, which is really, really hard,” Druckmann told rapper Logic.

Druckmann stated that he doesn’t think he can make too many more video games, but didn’t give any timeline for his retirement and didn’t suggest that it is imminent.

It’s easy to see why Druckmann would be stressed. While Naughty Dog has enjoyed both commercial and critical success with its recent releases, the company was part of the latest round of sweeping layoffs in Sony Interactive Entertainment. The studio’s not alone as there have been constant job cuts at developers of all sizes, whether they’ve had games succeed, fail, or not even come out yet.

Is Last of Us Part 3 coming?

The Last of Us Part 3 is still not confirmed but Druckmann said before that he has a concept in mind for the story.

In The Last of Us Part 2’s making-of documentary, Grounded 2, Druckmann revealed that he had been mulling over a potential third game for years, but struggled to find something that would excite him. However, he now claims that his perspective has changed.

“I don’t have a story, but I do have that concept…So it does feel like there’s probably one more chapter to this story,” Druckmann said.

Naughty Dog stated three months ago that it abandoned plans for a live-service multiplayer game in favor of its single-player titles. However, the 2023 announcement of Naughty Dog co-director Evan Wells’ departure might have added to Druckmann’s responsibility.

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Written by Mohamed Hassan

Mohamed still treasures his time playing games on the original PlayStation, speedrunning through the Megaman X games and replaying acclaimed role-playing game Chrono Cross countless times. Since then, his love for JRPGs and platformers has only grown and is among the driving forces behind his passion for writing about video games. He has previously written for DualShockers and Same Old Gaming, and he can be found on Twitter / X at @Weltschmerz2887.

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