Naughty Dog has condemned harassment after a weekend in which The Last of Us 2 developers revealed death threats.
“Although we welcome critical discussion, we condemn any form of harassment or threats directed towards our team and cast,” Naughty Dog said in a tweet.
“Their safety is our top priority, but we must all work together to root out this type of behavior and maintain a constructive and compassionate discourse.”
The statement comes after voice actress Laura Bailey, who plays Abby in The Last of Us 2, took to Twitter to reveal disturbing death threats received over the role.
While The Last of Us 2 has been a critical and commercial success, the discourse surrounding the PlayStation 4 exclusive has become increasingly toxic since part of the game was leaked ahead of release.
Death threats are a depressingly common occurrence in video game development. In August 2019, Respawn developers received death threats following comments made on reddit about Apex Legends’ monetisation. In November 2019, Eurogamer reported how EA’s FIFA community managers have for some time now suffered harassment, verbal abuse and death threats on social media at the hands of the game’s toxic community. There are many other examples of developers receiving death threats over the years.
Naughty Dog’s development chief Neil Druckmann, who also took to Twitter to reveal vile, hateful, and violent messages, bemoaned the harassment Bailey has faced.
“As the people that propagate this kind of hate would say, how stunning and brave!” Druckmann said on Twitter.
“I hope these gamers get the mental help they so clearly need. Unfortunately this is now the cost of making popular entertainment that challenges conventions. Laura doesn’t deserve any of this.”
Head of PlayStation Worldwide Studios, Herman Hulst also took to Twitter to comment:
“Thank you for a truly unforgettable performance Laura,” Hulst said.
“However pitiful these responses are, bear in mind they represent a tiny minority of our industry.”
Speaking in a YouTube interview with Kinda Funny, Druckmann called the day The Last of Us 2 leaked online “one of the worst days of my life”.
“A few hours later, [the leak is] everywhere and you’re starting to get hate on every social media you’re on, and soon that turns into death threats, anti-Semitic remarks, and just craziness I never could have anticipated.”
“Damn. The amount of encouraging responses to this…” Bailey tweeted. “I’ve always believed that good people far outweigh the bad. Thanks for reminding me of that today.”