As news emerged last week that software developer Naughty Dog intends to start their developing life on PS4 using the same engine that they created for their blockbuster franchise Uncharted, it was another piece of related news that made this decision very easy to understand.
Naughty Dog’s outstanding survival horror, The Last of Us, is sitting at the top of the UK all formats chart for the fifth week running – and, with the summer drought the games industry usually sees, sales are looking steady for a possible sixth week. The chart, published by GfK Chart-Track, covers all games sold across all formats (and now includes digital downloads). It is published weekly after the end of Saturday trading (see here). This marks the first time a game has retained the top spot for 5 consecutive weeks this year (Irrational Games’ BioShock Infinite and Techland’s Dead Island: Riptide both managed three weeks at the top earlier in the year.
Earning the accolade of ‘Fastest selling new franchise in the history of the PS3’ (according to Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios president, Shuhei Yoshida), The Last of Us sold more than a staggering 3.4 million units in the first 3 weeks alone.
With one critically acclaimed franchise already under their belts – all eyes were on Naughty Dog when they released The Last of Us on June 14th, 2013. It didn’t take long for the praise to come flooding in, with most reviewers feeling that they had exceeded the quality of the Uncharted series. The decision to keep with the same development infrastructure became a no-brainer. When you can tweak the old adage ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – but somehow make it better anyway’, you can see why Naughty Dog are not only keeping the same engine, but actively promoting the fact!
In an interview with Digital Spy, Game director Bruce Straley made the reason they are sticking with PS3 engine instead of starting over with a new engine clear:
“We learned a big lesson coming from PS2 to PS3. There was a lot of hype over what next-gen was going to be. It was all going to be like movies, like a pre-rendered cutscene-style fidelity. That turned out not to be true. Granted, what we’re able to do now is pretty damn close, but it took Naughty Dog four games to get there – one of the top developers in the industry with some on the most amazing scientists working in our programming department.”
Having previously spoken of the difficulties they faced creating a new IP and a new engine at the start of the PS3 life cycle, it would seem that Naughty Dog are making the smart decision for the next-generation. However, it will be interesting to see how other developers react to Naughty Dog’s supremacy – given that the PS4 is reportedly much easier to develop for than the PS3. Perhaps it was the big risk at the start of the PS3 life cycle that eventually paid off? If Naughty Dog are NOT the developer to take the big risk that moves the industry forward, who will step into the breech – and will it pay off a second time?
For now though, Naughty Dog are riding high and deservedly so! All eyes will be on the charts at the end of next week to see if they can extend their hold over the No. 1 spot for a sixth week running. With word of mouth still providing as much, if not more support than their original advertising campaign, I wouldn’t bet against it!
Richard is a father, teacher, gamer and writer. He believes that The Last of Us and Olli Olli 2 are the finest games ever made, feels that the StarWars Saga should only be watched in ‘the Machete order’ and once cleared Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in one sitting. Took him 20 hours, four cups of tea and a sausage roll. You can follow him on twitter @TLOUFactionsMP or @VigilanteSanta and view his occasional twitch outbursts on twitch.tv/spooklebeans.