After the review scores for The Last of Us Part II came in–and they were very good–writer-director Neil Druckmann sent an email to his team to thank them for their hard work. Druckmann has now shared some insight on what he said in the email, including his response to the haters.
Speaking to actor Troy Baker, who plays Joel in the game, Druckmann said he originally wanted to send thank-you texts to every developer, one by one. However, the team’s sheer size made that impossible. Instead, he decided to send a message on a larger scale. He ended up using email rather than text.
Druckmann said he was writing a text to art director John Sweeney, with whom he clashed often throughout development, and he began to cry. His reason for crying still isn’t clear to him.
“When the reviews hit, he was one of the first people I thought of to text personally. I’m starting to write this text to him, ‘Dude, I know we didn’t always see eye to eye…’ As I’m writing this text, I’m starting to cry, and I couldn’t even understand why I’m crying. I realize I can’t text everybody on the team–there’s just too many people on the team. I just have to write the whole team an email, and I’m not very good at that stuff.”
Druckmann said he doesn’t remember exactly what he wrote to his team, but it touched on how he was getting too much personal praise when people should understand that making The Last of Us 2 was a team effort. He also told his team that he’s never been prouder of any game he’s worked on.
He also had a message for the haters. As it turns out, he isn’t a big fan of them!
“I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but I’m writing about my fears like I’m getting too much praise and it’s not being seen enough as a team project–but this is a Naughty Dog game, in every sense of the word,” Druckmann said. “I forget how I ended it, but it was something to the effect of, ‘Review scores are cool, but seeing your guys’ pride is what I live for.'”
“The reviews were awesome, and it’s great to hear people love the game and how much it resonates with them, but nothing comes close to hearing you, or Laura, or John, or any member of the team that has sent me an email since the game has come out to say this is the best game I’ve ever worked on. F**k the haters. Nothing makes me prouder that I’ve worked on in my life than this game.”
Also in the interview, Druckmann spoke about how he does not focus too much on sales. He only hopes his games can make enough money to convince Sony to allow Naughty Dog to keep doing what it does.
“Our job is not to maximize profits or sales,” he said. “The game is selling well, and I don’t care. Just to talk about sales for a second, I just want to sell enough so we can do it again. So Sony will keep trusting us and giving us the creative freedom to do whatever we need to do. And anything beyond that is just gravy.”
For what it’s worth, The Last of Us Part II is a gigantic sales success. The game sold more than 4 million copies in its first three days, setting new PlayStation records.
Naughty Dog is now working on The Last of Us Part II’s new multiplayer/online mode, while the company is also thinking about what might come next like The Last of Us III or something else.
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