Naughty Dog "Flat-Out Refused" to Change Last of Us Cover

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Naughty Dog "Flat-Out Refused" to Change Last of Us Cover


The creative director of The Last of Us says it's a "misconception" that videogames need a male-dominated cover in order to sell.

The box art for The Last of Us sparked no small amount of discussion in certain quarters of the internet because the central character on the cover is - gasp! - female. That's kind of a big deal when you consider how few box covers have been led by women over the years (very few) and particularly interesting in light of Ken Levine's recent comments about why the BioShock Infinite cover is so utterly generic and dull.

Ashley Johnson, the actress who plays Ellie - the girl on the cover - acknowledged that publishers put men on the front of games because they believe that's what sells. "It's all gamers really know - and I don't want to be sexist by any means - but I get the feeling, generally, that they think game won't sell as well with a woman on the cover, compared to some badass dude on the front," she told VG247.

Creative Neil Druckmann agreed with Johnson but disagreed with the concept, and also let it be known that Naughty Dog faced pressure to slap a more conventional, male-dominated image on the front of The Last of Us box. "I believe there's a misconception that if you put a girl or a woman on the cover, the game will sell less," he said. "I know I've been in discussions where we've been asked to push Ellie to the back and everyone at Naughty Dog just flat-out refused."

Good for Naughty Dog, and even better if the game is a hit, or at least not so much of a flop that executive-types can scapegoat it as the root of all their problems. That may (or may not) be a bit extreme, but in such a heavily male-dominated industry, even a small move like this can represent a significant risk for whoever makes it.

The PlayStation 3-exclusive The Last of Us comes out on May 7, 2013.

Source: VG247


There's still a man in a stance reminiscent of soldiers walking to the camera looking off in the distance. It's still a main characters focused image which is much more of an epidemic than male dominance in video game covers. I'm sick of just characters on a cover like the photoshop face collage plague.

I'm worried about Naughty Dog. First they don't release Uncharted Racing, now they move on to a game where a racing game wouldn't fit.

I'm worried about Naughty Dog. First they don't release Uncharted Racing, now they move on to a game where a racing game wouldn't fit.


but seriously people had a problem with the cover of this game? REALLY?! i mean if people complained about a kid having a gun then ya maybe i can see a point (id disagree, but at least its more reasonable) but having a problem with a girl on the front?

I'd but it, just because it is different. Shame I don't have a PS3.

Naughty Dog, making strides in the Industry at every conceivable level. Nah but seriously that's cool I guess? I didn't think this would be a big deal in the first place honestly, and it's not like she's in a tutu dress doing a pirouette. She's shouldering a rifle for goodness sake!

I'm worried about Naughty Dog. First they don't release Uncharted Racing, now they move on to a game where a racing game wouldn't fit.

well lets be fair Crash Team Racing was pretty freaking awesome. Damn fun even.

Good on them.
Though Joel looks pretty fuckin' badass.

Oh Naughty Dog you're always impressing me.
You make great games and now I can add respect to the list of reasons why I like you so much.
To be fair, there's still the guy on the cover, but he's not the main point of interest in the design.

I wasn't planning on buying The Last of Us, this might have just sold me the game.

And they're missing the point entirely. It's not Ellie. It's the fact that it's a poster.

At the risk of completely missing the point, I thought I should point out that female dominated covers have always been accepted and even common-place in the industry... as long as they were sexualized.

I'm worried about Naughty Dog. First they don't release Uncharted Racing, now they move on to a game where a racing game wouldn't fit.

don't worry I can see a couple places where racing can be introduced (your running from bandits, and then they come out in there own vehicle, and there you go) remember that racing was kind of tacked on to Jak & Daxter, and was actually kind of the really annoying part of the game.

OT: haven't there already been female dominated covers before (Lara Croft: Any, Beyond Good and Evil, and Metroid) though I am having trouble thinking of a game where the main character (or the possibility of a mail character) that had a female in the forefront of the cover.

though I do feel that the main character shouldn't even need to be there on the cover, I mean remove the guy from the cover, and you actually have a lot more interesting image to deal with. you would have the ruined city scape, a anxious if not scared young person (in this case female), who looks that "I have this riffle, and I hope that I can use it to protect myself"

not only do you break away from the "women are weak" sentiment, but you also deliver something interesting, and almost cinematic on its own, but I could see some backlash that "there is only a girl on the cover, and I am playing as a guy without the option of playing as the girl."

Hmm. A case where I can utter the words artistic integrity with a straight face. I approve.

good on them, i was already really interested in this but damn if that doesn't add to the list of why i like them and want to buy from them.

also, so much awesome stuff is happening those few weeks in may, really need to save up money...

So there still are those with standards in the industry, too bad we seldom get to see them.
That being said tho they do still have a 30s white guy with gun standing in the middle of an orange background, and flat white text spelling out the name... you aren't exactly going nuts with creativity here.

Is that even a thing? Or are they just trying to get some easy PR riding Bioshock's back?

It is a great cover. It would have also been a great cover if the characters were in the opposite positions. I say this because the cover fits the theme of the game. From all of the information I have heard about the game, this cover seems to portray it quite well.

Honestly, that is what sets it apart from Bioshock's new cover. From all of the information I seen, I guess I didn't picture the main character like that at all. It is a blatant and generic "I am a bada**" shot.

For me personally, AAA game covers are not a factor when deciding on purchasing or looking at that game. I get all the information I need from websites and/or friends. The game covers only come into effect with indie games. I will admit, I will browse though steam and will be more likely to like on a nice cover that interests me than one that doesn't.

Is that even a thing? Or are they just trying to get some easy PR riding Bioshock's back?

That's what I was thinking. They see Bioshock Infinite having PR issues with their cover, so they come out and tell the world that they're better than that.

Personally, I don't see why people are so hung up on box art anyway.

Smart PR move, this company knows its customers well.

Maybe I'm really out of touch with what the general public is into, but is this really considerd "risky" box art? Honestly it looks like the usual generic depiction most games have, except there's a little girl slightly infront of the badass dude.

Naughty Dog seriously had to put their foot down for this this cover? For Christ's sake... I can't keep up with this world anymore.

I don't see what the problem is this cover perfectly suits the game and its themes. To be honest I think it is one of the better designed covers I have seen in a whiles.

Don't worry guys, there's still a generic looking, grizzled white guy on the front, holding a weapon and looking cool. Move along, no cause for alarm.

*looks at cover* I fail to the the issue. We have the two main characters, a badass looking guy in the center, and the cute girl who seems to be the emotional heart of the story a bit bigger, while holding a rifle over her shoulder. ...How is that a "risk"?

Because it doesn't have a guy in a standard "badass shooter pose" taking up half the cover, with nary a female in sight? ...Avoiding that is a good thing. If they went for that people might confuse it with the latest spunkgargleweewee game at first glance.

I like this cover.

The cover isnt anything special and it does make sence to have the girl in the focus instead of the guy. From what I have seen from the game it looks like the girl is what matters in it, kind of like the movie "The Road", I wouldnt even be suprised if the ending was similar. The girl represents the future of the apocalypse, just like any other child in that world would.

I'm tempted to get this game just on principle now. I'm happy to support anything that doesn't bend to the whims of the dudebro demographic.

You don't need a male character front and center on the cover. Sometimes, a massively popular platform-defining franchise and tons of fawning media previews will serve you every bit as well.


Translation for the sarcasm-impaired: If "Last of Us" does well (as is likely), given the lead-up to it, it will be impossible to tell whether the cover image made one ruddy bit of difference.)

I love this cover, except for one thing: "Only On PlayStation."

Maybe I'll get a PS3 for this. I've always wanted to play a game where there's a non-sexualized female lead in an action-oriented role. I'd be a lot more interested if they just made a PC release, though.

Over-analyze much? Maybe?

What kind of a person gives a bleep?

It's interesting then to compare the approach of Naughty Dog (who I respect anyway, they gave me the early Crash and Jak games after all...) to that of Ken Levine and 2K Games, with the differing styles. One is focusing on the young female deuteragonist, while the other focuses on the manly gun-toting protagonist, and the reasons given for each art style are completely different. Personally, I don't look at the art of a game to decide whether to buy it, I already know what games I like and I'll take a look and read up on something regardless of what the box cover looks like. What the game itself looks like, and plays like, is more improtant in my eyes.

At any rate, I have great hopes for both games, and will most certainly be getting Bioshock Infinite, and lament sadly at my inability to get The Last Of Us (because as I've so often said before, to no avail, exclusive titles are the curse of the gaming industry, and shouldn't be allowed, but tough luck I guess...). I wonder though, if the sales will reflect the art, or more importantly will the sales reflect the quality of each game?

EDIT: Post edited to reflect that Naughty Dog didn't make the early Ratchet and Clank games, that was Insomniac. Which I should have known, being a big Spyro fan and owning the first Ratchet games when they came out. Silly me...

I love that they put Elle in the foreground because she IS a major focus of the game. It even looks like the male in the background, whose name I can't remember, is looking at her which makes sense as I wouldn't be surprised if he's walking through the hell they live in just for her.

I was going to try to get this being tight and all, but it's bumped up several spots for me just because I respect NaughtyDog for sticking to their guns.

Good on Naughty Dog. I find it interesting that this was even an issue, considering she is the main focus, and probably the only game I will ever acknowledge is being partially an escort quest game, yet looks very compell-AAAH IT BURNS!

In all seriousness though, Naughty Dog has yet to disappoint as a developer, which is quite an achievement these days. They know when to make something, what to focus on, and when to quit before it turns into a saturiation-fest (although Crash was digged up from his grave and crushed into the ground after they left *snif*).
They want this, and have had the vision for a while. This speaks to the story they want to tell. And I swear this, and Bioshock Infinite's cover art looks a thousand times more compelling then "X Broad-shouldered space marine wanna-be" on yet another box cover.

Looking forward to both of those games. And here's to Naughty Dog going strong in the future.


Well I was going to go on a rant but you've taken the words right out of my keyboard, so now all I can do is agree with you.
Well played and written friend.

Is that even a thing? Or are they just trying to get some easy PR riding Bioshock's back?

I think that this has been their cover since E3, or at least simular.


That was the image they ended the gameplay preview on, same poses with her in the front.

This is a controversy now? Okay.

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