Naughty Dog’s ‘The Last of Us Part II’ has suffered several delays coming to market. Now major leaks that spoil the plot twists in the game have hit the internet, many of which are proving to be quite unpopular with fans of the franchise. The major plot points of the PlayStation 4 exclusive videogame has been spoiled and much of the videogame community’s response has been negative due to several controversial plot points that could prove more traumatic than the intriguing twists of the original.
Sony has now officially said “it has identified the primary individuals responsible for the leaks earlier this week,” saying they were “not affiliated with Sony Interactive Entertainment or Naughty Dog.” Sony wouldn’t reveal who the source of the leaks was. The leaked videos showcase much of the gameplay, and revealed some important scenes and level details that give away The Last of Us Part 2′s biggest twists. In their strategy to mitigate the leaks, Sony has resorted to abusing the Youtube DCMA procedure to silence both the leaks and any critics commenting on what those leaks revealed.
One unconfirmed leak found in this thread at ResetEra.com [SPOILERS] suggests that both Joel and Ellie die in the course of the game. The leak reads:
“Joel is killed in the first few hours by Abby, the daughter of the surgeon you kill in Part One. This is apparently what happens in that scene in the trailer where Ellie’s being held down. Ellie dies at the end of the story, but he wasn’t told how. Jesse and Dina live. You play as Abby for half the game.”
The result of such massive leaks being out in the open is that gamers, who have long been waiting for the sequel, are now talking about canceling their pre-orders. And while many on Twitter and Reddit and other gaming messaging boards are claiming that they no longer want to play the game in light of these spoilers, many in the shill media are promoting the narrative that some studies have reportedly shown that spoilers can actually improve the experience for many.
But while some media outlets are running interference for Naughty Dog and Sony, others are not being quite as kind and have found themeselves on the losing end of those copyright strike violations on their Youtube channels, also known as a DCMA, or a “notice and takedown” of the video under the Digital Millennium Contract Act. If a video creator’s content is taken down due to a DMCA notice, the creator has the ability to file a “counter-notice,” and then have to wait until the entity that filed the original takedown notice to take further action.
So, now @Sony have filed a false DMCA against my channel for a video that was already blocked and under dispute. @YouTube @TeamYouTube why are you allowing Sony to abuse your copyright claim policy? pic.twitter.com/mnXwJiisYt
— Just Some Guy (@justsomeguycc) May 1, 2020
Just Some Guy is one of those videogame commentators on Youtube whose channel got hit with a DMCA this week. JSG has been highlighted on this website before. He frequently rants and reviews comics, films, and the occasional video game. He’s also a starving artist who makes all the artwork featured on his channel page and in his videos. I asked him why he thought Sony was able to issue a copyright strike on his recent Last of Us II video reacting to the leaks.
“As far as I can tell, the only difference between the video that Sony flagged and the previous one that is still up (at the time of writing this) is that I showed an image of ‘Abby’ from the leaked footage and referred to her by name. Outside of that, the content is the same in both videos: I mentioned the rumors and leaks and largely give my opinion.”
When commenting on his own interest in the sequel, JSG first mentioned the several delays the game had already been through before the leaks hit the web. “The delays didn’t change my interest, but the leaks and rumors did, and Sony’s behavior worsened that response. I intended to wait until reviews of the game came out before buying it. Now, I will no longer buy The Last of Us Part II or any Naughty Dog games, and I’m debating on whether to apply this to Sony as well. Given that my system of choice for 20 years has been the Playstation, it would be a big decision.”
When asked if he plans to dispute the strike, he assured me that he would. “I’ve filed disputes for the claims made by Sony and MUSO TNT Ltd. If I don’t receive a response from them within a timely manner, I will pursue a civil suit against both companies for filing false copyright infringement claims.”
Geeks & Gamers is a Youtube channel that actually has several spokespeople that comment on the latest geek and gaming news, but the head geek is Jeremy, the main spokesperson and founder of the channel. Jeremy frequently uploads several videos a day, and many tend to focus on the increasingly common identity politics found in the entertainment industry and how that impacts the narrative decisions.
Jeremy was a fan of the first game, so I wanted to know what his interest level was in the sequel before these leaks.
“The game wasn’t very much on my radar. As someone that enjoyed the first game, I really wasn’t particularly excited about the sequel, but I was happy for those that were. Now my focus on this story is more to do with the identity politics being included in the narrative choices and how Naughty Dog is handling the leaks.”
Jeremy is referring to some of the seemingly “identity politics” influence that’s prevalent in the leaks. Many attribute this increased emphasis Neil Druckmann, the creative director at Naughty Dog. In an interview with Rolling Stone’s newly-launched gaming site Glixel, Druckmann was asked about how his videogames are influenced by the feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian, who has produced numerous videos on the subject of sexism in games.
“When I’m introducing and describing a new character to our lead character concept artist, constantly she will ask, ‘What if it was a girl?’ And I’m like, oh, I didn’t think about that. Let me think, does that affect or change anything? No? Cool, that’s different. Yeah, let’s do it.” Druckmann says his intentions with making games is to challenge his audience: “I want it to ask interesting questions, or at least have people ask those questions of themselves.
Anita Sarkeesian is the head of Feminist Frequency where she focuses on racial and identity politics in videogames and frequently criticizes sexualized, feminine designs and insists that female characters be made stronger while given less emphasis on its feminine attributes. In fact, it’s been reported that Naughty Dog even made their female characters in The Last of Us II less feminine so as not to “offend trans-women.” And that’s not all the identity politics to be found in the game. It turns out that the antagonists in the videogame are also a “cult” of fundamentalist Christians who don’t like the gays.
Now that the leaks have hit the web, fans are learning that the game will also force players to assume the role of a villain known as Abby, who appears to be one of those aforementioned trans-friendly characters. Abby comes into direct conflict with the two beloved characters of the original game, Joel and Ellie. According to these leaks, the game will force players to assume the role of the villain after she’s killed the previous game’s protagonist.
Regarding how Jeremy thought Sony was handling this PR nightmare. “As a fan of first Last of Us game, I find this recent news to be disappointing and that’s why I’m covering it. I’ve seen the claims Sony has put out regarding the leakers, however until I get more information I’m not going to comment on that. As far as how they are handling the leaks, I think they’re doing a pretty horrible job all things considered. It’s an unfortunate situation, but that doesn’t excuse how they are handling it.
When asked bout his video being taken down, he didn’t mince words. “The strike against my channel was a complete abuse of the flawed YouTube copyright system. As of now I have filed a counterclaim and I am in the waiting process.”
A message from the studio: pic.twitter.com/f0TzIZXUIB
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) April 27, 2020
AZ is a Youtuber from the UK and his channel Heel Vs. Babyface has been focused on gaming for a while, but occasionally began extending into recent pop culture issues around December 2019, beginning with his coverage of the new Doctor Who series. Since then, he’s branched much further into geekdom, but still keeps his eye on the latest gaming news.
“I was a big fan of the first Last of Us game and Naughty Dog with their Uncharted series,” AZ says. “The coverage was really about the delays in the game, but when Troy Baker asked people to keep an “open mind” regarding the sequel it set off alarm bells that things might not be as they seem. The leaks of The Last of US Part II seem to confirm why.” AZ’s referring to the voice actor for Joel who seemingly intended to prepare fans for some of these potentially unpopular twists to the game which were revealed in the leaks.
— Heel vs Babyface (@heelvsbabyface) May 2, 2020
“They are handling the leaks terribly,” AZ continued. “Striking channels talking about the leaks and channels that are not even mentioning specifics. It’s a complete over-reaction that has created the ‘Streisand Effect‘ and putting more eyes on these channels than before, and with it more people discovering what was in the leaks too.”
When asked what he intends to do about his DCMA take-down, he informed me he was pushing back hard. “I’m already in contact with YouTube as it regards the strike, and also the two other claims levied on it by Sony Interactive Entertainment. They’re looking into matter, but these things do take a little time and right now I have been patient. I’ve also had a discussion with my solicitor and they’ve advised to sit tight why YouTube conducts it’s investigation first before discussing other alternate avenues.” If Sony or Naughty Dog do not respond to a counter-notice, then the video that was taken down is usually restored after 10 business days, or two weeks. By then, its relevance is potentially already greatly minimized, which is possibly Sony’s strategy.
I then asked if AZ was still interested in the videogame after the repeated delays, the content of the leaks, and how Sony reacted.
“The delays weren’t affecting my decision whether or not to make a purchase. I appreciate that things need to be ready and that sometimes causes delays. Also, with the current world situation, I feel we need to have some extra patience too. However that said, once I had seen the leaks and where the narrative was going I lost all interest I had in purchasing this game. That in itself is exceedingly disappointing because of how much I loved the original.”
He continued “I’m more frustrated with Naughty Dog than Sony. Sony is protecting its investment, but Naughty Dog made the game. The responsibility of it lies at their feet. With Neil Druckmann’s attitude and researched dealings with Anita Sarkeesian I can see why the sequel has ended up the way it has – if the leaked footage does prove to indeed be correct. I doubt very much I’ll be making another purchase from Naughty Dog if this is the case.”
‘The Last of Us Part II’ was originally confirmed in December 2016 and, following a preview event in September 2018, originally scheduled to come out in February of this year. The release date was shuffled back to May and then delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. A Sony update on April 27, after the leak (though it makes no mention of the leak at all), announced that ‘The Last of Us Part II’ will arrive on June 19. Let’s see how that turns out. I’m told that you had better have at least 100GB of free space before you install it!
So how will these leaks affect the sales? That remains to be seen. Are you interested in the game? Is Sony abusing the Youtube copyright strike system to silence critics who dare to talk about it? Do they believe that legitimate critics are unable to find any fault with their games? Has Naughty Dog sew the seeds of their own undoing by focusing more on divisive, and heavy handed identity politics than on giving fans what they wanted and have come to expect? Is “Get Woke, Go Broke” now in play?
The internet is undefeated pic.twitter.com/tPIqeMFQjR
— Jeremy Prime (@DDayCobra) May 2, 2020
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