Naughty Dog has dabbled in multiplayer games in the past and now it appears as though the acclaimed studio is diving even deeper into the online realm. Recent job postings from the Uncharted and The Last of Us developer say it is hiring for its “first standalone multiplayer game.” While these postings have made the rounds in the past few months, the newest position strongly implies that this game will have microtransactions.
The LinkedIn posting in question is for a monetization designer that will “build an incredible, player-friendly economy” from scratch. This is slightly different from the ad that was reported on in March as this new one has “monetization” in it. And while there is a lot of potentially troubling talk regarding player psychology and “increasing revenue,” Naughty Dog seems aware of the reputation that in-game purchases have.
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There’s a constant emphasis on being friendly to players as it comes up multiple times. It’s clearly summed up in the section that ask the candidate to “increase revenue and conversion while maintaining a strong player-first value system.” The bottom of the listing even explicitly states Naughty Dog is looking for someone who has “deep insight into non-destructive” monetization. This person will work with a bunch of departments to create “sustainable monetization systems in line with the game’s vision” and a “holistic monetization strategy” that will keep players playing while respecting their experience and bringing in money.
While microtransactions are never mentioned, it’s almost certain that this multiplayer title will have them, given the language used throughout. Microtransactions have shown up in other Naughty Dog games in different ways in addition to the standard array of premium and gameplay-relevant maps, modes, and, in The Last of Us‘ case, guns, emotes, perks, and executions. Uncharted 2 featured multiplayer skins. Uncharted 3 allowed players to buy past level caps after going free-to-play. The Last of Us featured a whole suite of cosmetics on the PlayStation Store. Uncharted 4 and Lost Legacy had the most classic version of microtransactions as players can spend real money for virtual currency used to buy items in the game’s store.
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It appears as though Naughty Dog is planning a roadmap for the game, too. It calls for someone who will “maximize post-launch/live campaign and content efforts,” which sounds a lot like many modern multiplayer games. A separate listing for an AI programmer also strongly hints at a co-op element or some sort of PvPvE mode, too, so this game’s roadmap might not just be limited to competitive play with other humans.
An update regarding multiplayer: pic.twitter.com/CUd98LgJGC
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) September 27, 2019
The job listing does not state what the mystery game is, but all signs are pointing to it being related to The Last of Us. The first game shipped with a surprisingly popular mode, which made it all the more shocking when Naughty Dog said The Last of Us Part II would exclusively be a single-player adventure. In the above tweet from nearly two years ago, the studio stated this online mode would not be part of the sequel and it will show more “when it’s ready.”
It’s not clear what form this multiplayer game would take as there are a number of different possibilities. It could be a free-to-play multiplayer game — a model that would help justify its microtransactions — or a premium standalone one. A Bloomberg report from April did also state that Sony was remaking the first game in the series. This online game could coincide with this remake, be it the remake all by itself or some sort of all-encompassing The Last of Us bundle that includes PlayStation 5-enhanced versions of the whole series. The language in the listing does imply that, if this were the case, it would take the Ghost of Tsushima: Legends route and also be a separate thing. The details have yet to reveal themselves, but it’s evident that Naughty Dog is forging ahead into uncharted territory with its next online game.