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Gameverse | May 29, 2020

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The Last of Us Part 2: Will Story Spoilers Hurt the Game’s Sales?

Matthew Byrd

In case you haven’t heard, it seems that significant cutscenes from The Last of Us Part 2 have been leaked online ahead of the game’s June release date. While the source of this leak remains unconfirmed (it’s believed to originate from a disgruntled ex-Naughty Dog employee), there’s no denying that the extent of these spoilers is substantial. They essentially outline nearly the entire plot of the game.

Needless to say, this is an unfortunate situation for developer Naughty Dog who not only worked so hard on this game but has had to delay The Last of Us Part 2 due to complications caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

Truth be told, the extent of this situation raises serious concerns regarding whether or not The Last of Us Part 2‘s sales will be seriously harmed by these significant story leaks.

We understand if you think that sounds a little dramatic. After all, The Last of Us Part 2 is not only one of the most anticipated games in recent years, but there’s not much in the way of historical precedence when it comes to such leaks significantly hurting a game’s sales. There have been several notable games that have been significantly leaked ahead of their scheduled release (the most infamous example being Half-Life 2) and those titles went on to perform relatively well.

Yet, you get the feeling this situation may be a little bit different. First off, it’s already clear that this is a large (or at least vocal) section of The Last of Us fans who have read the game’s spoilers and are very, very disappointed. We won’t dive into those specifics here, but it stands to reason that anyone who was going to buy the game and is disappointed by the spoilers may choose not to do so.

That’s kind of the heart of what makes this particular leak so notable. The Last of Us Part 2 is very much a story-driven game. A big part of its appeal is the ability to see what will happen next. Even if the number of people who won’t buy the game because of what they’ve seen in the spoilers is relatively low, you still have thousands of people out there who could accidentally be exposed to the spoilers. On top of that, we’ve still got about three months until The Last of Us Part 2 is even released. That’s a long time to avoid widespread spoilers even if you’re not seeking them out.

There’s also the issue of gratification. Yes, playing The Last of Us Part 2 will always offer an experience that these spoilers alone can not, but when you’re talking about 3 months of story exposure, there is certainly a fear that the game may feel like old news to some by the time it is released.

To be clear, we don’t imagine that there is a large number of people out there who will see The Last of Us Part 2 spoilers and get so frustrated that they know what is going to happen that they’ll just not buy the game. Some will consciously make that decision, but it seems unlikely that spoilers alone will significantly impact the game’s sales.

If anything, the decision to delay The Last of Us Part 2 by a couple of months may have a bigger impact on the game’s sales. The PlayStation team noted that their decision to delay the game was largely based on the fear that the current coronavirus situation would not allow them to release the game in the manner they would have liked to. At the time, that seemed perfectly understandable, but now that the game has only been delayed by less than two months, will be released in a shaky global economy, and has to battle significant spoilers…well, you start to see how this could end up being the most impactful video game leak of all-time.