It's hard not to feel like Sony's upcoming PlayStation 5 and PC remake of The Last of Us, which is formally being titled The Last of Us Part 1, is being created for any reason other than to bring in easy money. Perhaps that's a stupid thing to say given that the entire point of video game development in the first place is for companies to generate profits, but this latest re-release of The Last of Us feels different. Not only is the game not going to contain everything that was seen in the past two versions that were released on PS3 and PS4, but Sony is also asking for a considerable more amount of money to boot.
In case you somehow didn't see it, yes, Sony is asking customers to pay $69.99 for The Last of Us Part 1 on PS5. This has become the new standard fee for first-party PS5 games since the console was released in late 2020, so it's not necessarily a shock on that front. What is surprising, though, is that Part 1 doesn't even contain everything seen in The Last of Us Remastered. That version of the game, which came out in 2014 on PS4 (for a cheaper-than-normal retail price of $49.99) contained the base game, Factions multiplayer, and the Left Behind DLC. The Last of Us Part 1 is going to contain all of the same single-player content, but Factions is now being left out entirely, likely because a new Naughty Dog multiplayer game in this vein is already on the way.
At a baseline level, many people (myself included) are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that games now cost $70. That's something we will all surely become accustomed to more over the years, but in a time where inflation is running rampant around the globe, it's becoming that much more difficult to spend money on an entertainment medium. This is even more true when the game you're looking to potentially buy can't even be considered feature-complete when compared to past releases.
The other reason that this release from Sony feels bizarre is because no one has really been asking for the publisher to remake The Last of Us whatsoever. Despite coming up on the tenth anniversary of its first release, The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 is still a more-than-adequate way to experience and play the original game. The graphical work that has been done in Part 1 seems impressive on Naughty Dog's part based on what has been shown so far, but this also isn't a game that seemingly needs to exist right now.
It could be argued that Sony is really only aiming for new players to pick up The Last of Us Part 1, especially since the HBO TV series based on the game is set to release early next year and will by proxy expose new people to the property. And while that would be a feasible conclusion to jump to, PlayStation itself isn't even marketing the game in this manner. The tagline for The Last of Us Part 1 on PlayStation's own website is encouraging people to, "Relive the beloved game that started it all – for the PlayStation 5 console." Sony is merely looking to tap into the audience that has already played The Last of Us because it knows that these same customers will just look to buy it once again. After all, why spend five or more years creating an entirely new game that may not sell well when you can spend a fraction of that development time to re-release an old title that will surely bring in revenue?
I think the thing that I find most concerning about this whole situation with Sony is that it's clearly not a one-off scenario. For the past couple of years, Sony has been making a number of moves associated with PlayStation that show the company is more focused on profits above all else at the moment. Bend Studio's inability to get Days Gone 2 greenlit, despite the first game selling rather well, is one example of this that we've heard about in the past year. The shuttering of Japan Studio last April is another notable occurrence. Despite creating or assisting with the development on a number of beloved games, Sony seemingly decided to do away with Japan Studio just because it wasn't a division of the company that ever made a ton of money with its releases.
This $70 price tag on The Last of Us Part 1 also resembles the "controversy" that PlayStation found itself in last year with the upgrade path for Horizon Forbidden West. While it previously seemed apparent that people who bought the PS4 iteration of Forbidden West would later be able to freely upgrade to the PS5 version, Sony instead tried to squeeze a bit more money out of this group and revealed that they would need to pay a small fee to get the next-gen iteration later if they wanted to. After widespread fan outcry Sony ended up reversing course on this decision, but the fact this was even a problem in the first place highlights how PlayStation is operating at the moment.
Everything that I have said here is perhaps hypocritical considering that I'm one of those customers that will absolutely be looking to play The Last of Us Part 1 for myself when it hits PS5 in the coming months. Still, I can't help but feel like this is yet another instance where PlayStation is becoming more of a faceless corporate entity that is looking to drive revenue in any way possible rather than trying to meaningfully engage with its audience and listen to what they want. Time will only tell if this proves to be damaging to the company's reputation, but in an age where Sony quite literally can't keep up with demand for the PS5, I have a feeling that those operating at a corporate level within Sony are feeling more than happy about where PlayStation is heading.
The Last of Us Part 1 releases on PlayStation 5 on September 2, 2022. The PC version of this remake will be launching at an undetermined time in the future.