It obviously didn’t
The Last of Uswas the game that proved to a lot of people that Naughty Dog could handle a mature narrative. Its writing explores the human condition and examines the child/guardian protective emotional bond. Upon release, it was rightfully lauded by critics and received many end-of-year awards.
For as successful as it turned out, not everyone at Naughty Dog was confident in The Last of Usleading up to release. In a recent video produced by Sony, several key developers revealed that they “thought it was going to tank.”
“We thought we were going to ruin the name and image [of Naughty Dog] that’s been so heartily built for years with blood, sweat, and tears. We thought we were ruining Naughty Dog’s image,” co-director Bruce Straley said. Neil Druckmann, the other director, chipped in “The joke we would say throughout production was that ‘This game is the downfall of Naughty Dog.’”
According to lead designer Anthony Newman, a lot of the issues were on the mechanical side. “It wasn’t coming together. So, it was really a set of really lucky breaks in terms of gameplay decisions we made that really made everything fall into place and turned it into a fun game,” Newman commented.
Of course, everythingdid eventually fall into place in a fantastic way. The developers began to see that as the game entered its final stages and people external to the studio got a chance to try it. And, because it was received so positively, there very well may be a sequel on the way.
Conversations with Creators with Wil Wheaton | S01, E02: Naughty Dog [PlayStation video via GameSpot]