Is YouTube to Blame for The Last of Us 2 Review Scores?

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Controlling the narrative remains a critical marketing function of any organization. From politics to corporations to video game studios, first impressions are often the most lasting. However, if the initial reactions are false, it is increasingly difficult to correct a mistake. During a recent interview with Game Informer, Naughty Dog Vice-President Neil Druckmann explained how incorrect rumors impacted The Last of Use 2 review scores. Let’s dive in.

Review Bombing

Perhaps no video game in modern history has experienced more controversy thanThe Last of Us 2. From rumors of disgruntled employees to excessive “crunch,” Naughty Dog has weathered many storms during the game’s development cycle. But the greatest challenge Neil Druckmann’s studio faced was a series of leaked content in late April 2020. The ensuing debate ravaged the Internet just weeks prior to launch and culminated in a poor user scores on Metacritic as well as personal attacks against Naughty Dog employees on Twitter. While a bulk of the discourse occurred on Twitter and Reddit, multiple YouTube channels fanned the flames of controversy. In an interview with Game Informer, Neil Druckmann provided his perspective.

Throughout the interview, Druckmann explains the creative process at Naughty Dog for gameplay and narrative. However, when footage of Joel’s death leaked on YouTube in late April, fans were outraged. According to Druckmann, the leak set off a series of false information, such as Abby’s gender and Ellie’s motivations. Promoting the untrue narrative was a host of prominent YouTube channels. Druckmann refused to identify individual creators; however, multiple platforms kindled the fan response. Furthermore, the YouTube channels in question did not apologize or atone for producing false impressions.

The controversy surrounding The Last of Us 2 review scores raises questions of responsibility for producing false content. In the case of Naughty Dog, the misinformation led to over 32,000 negative user reviews on Metacritic. While the game sold well, the Naughty Dog staff had to endure personal threats, hate speech, and other attacks. Should fans hold YouTube channels accountable for spreading misinformation? Should Google penalize creators that spread disinformation and refuse to correct the narrative?

As the size and speed of information grows, game developers will continue to struggle with controlling the narrative.


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