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PlayStation CEO Responds To Last of Us Part II Fan Toxicity, Talks Company Diversity

Joel, Ellie, and Abby from The Last of Us Part II

With the PS5 having just launched and the PS4 in the rearview mirror, many are looking forward to the future of PlayStation. However, there are still some moments from the last console cycle that overshadow Sony's future.

One of PlayStation's most recent exclusives, The Last of Us Part II, received a significant negative response from some fans who felt unsatisfied with the game's direction. Angry fans turned to social media and review sites, tanking the game's user score on sites like Metacritic and bombarding the creative team with negative messages.

This controversy left many wondering how PlayStation would respond and if they would change course for future titles.

NEWS

President of Sony Interactive Entertainment Jim Ryan recently sat down with GQ to talk about PlayStation's newest console, as well as certain issues taking precedence in the gaming space.

When asked about the fan response to The Last of Us Part II, Ryan brought up his conversations with game director and Naughty Dog Vice-President Neil Druckmann, saying:

I met Neil last year and congratulated him on his art and his storytelling. Neil's a big boy, as am I, and I don't think either of us would allow ourselves to be unduly bothered by that stuff.

Neil knows he makes great art. He knows that he's successfully broached topics that have never been addressed in a mature manner in any video game ever before. I think that is an outstanding thing and I'm very proud that the PlayStation is the platform in which that happened. The rest of the toxicity you just take in your stride and just move on.

He also went on to detail PlayStation's attitude on diversity and representation, an increasingly important and relevant concern for the gaming world:

We're working harder than we ever have to ensure that we have as diverse a working population as we possibly can and that we behave with the right respect towards each other. I think that's permeated down to the studios and is resulting in a greater number of female protagonists, as well as Miles Morales, but it's not management by diktat. With Miles... that’s probably been about three years in the making.

WHAT THIS MEANS

Ryan's responses seem quite in line with PlayStation's approach to issues like representation and fan toxicity. PlayStation has shown an awareness of and responsiveness to questions of diversity and inclusion in the past, delaying a June PS5 event in response to Black Lives Matter protests and working to represent a wider group of identities in their games.

It is also notable that Ryan maintains a commitment to art and storytelling, mentioning that the fan response to titles like The Last of Us Part II has and will not dissuade the studio from pursuing stories and ideas they think are valuable. This seems evident considering what the future of PlayStation holds, with games like God of War: Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West looking like they will also feature challenging and engaging stories.