It's been a rather long time since Naughty Dog announced that The Last of Us multiplayer would not be included with the release of Part II, later motivating the choice with the studio's intention to deliver a much bigger and more ambitious game that warranted a standalone release.
In the following two years, we've only had leaks of a potential Battle Royale-inspired map and assurances from Naughty Dog that The Last of Us multiplayer would be worth the wait. Luckily, series creator Neil Druckmann broke the silence at the Summer Game Fest 2022.
What started out as a The Last of Us multiplayer mode has evolved. Due to the team's ambition, we really wanted to do something beyond what we've ever done before at Naughty Dog. We felt the way to do it justice was to make it a standalone title. They've been working on it for the past two years, and the ambition has grown.
This game is big. It's as big as any of our single-player games and, in some ways, bigger. It's got a story. The way we're telling that story is very unique to this game. It's got a brand new cast of characters. It takes place in another part of the United States. It's being headed by veterans of Uncharted and The Last of Us. You're going to see a lot more of this game come next year.
Ahead of 2023's expected info blowout, though, a Live Operations Producer job listing on Naughty Dog's website hints that the business model will be free to play.
We’re looking for a Live Ops Producer to support our major new multiplayer title. We are looking for the right candidate to get in early and help define the processes, requirements, and infrastructure that will support the project through launch and beyond.
Proven experience in a production role supporting a AAA, free to play, live title.
While this is not surprising, as we already assumed The Last of Us multiplayer would be one of Sony's planned ten live service games, it's hard not to be concerned with the monetization. Even if it is merely restricted to cosmetic items, it could be utterly immersion-breaking to see opponents clad in weird costumes in the middle of the apocalypse.