Days Gone deserved better when it first came out back in 2019, as Sony Bend’s deliciously detailed zombie sandbox was equal parts terrifying and gripping. Did the game have problems with pacing and frustrating resource collection? Absolutely, but for a first impact in what should have been a new tentpole franchise for Sony, it made a heck of an impression.
That sequel? It’s not happening, as a Bloomberg report published last week claims that after an unsuccessful Days Gone 2 pitch and being told to work as a glorified support studio for Naughty Dog, several key Days Gone staff members decided to leave Sony and search for greener pastures. Confirming some of these rumours in a livestream with God of War creator David Jaffe, former Sony Bend game director Jeff Ross said that a pitch for Days Gone 2 had been made but the NDA he was under prevented him from talking about the status of it.
“I don’t think it’s publicly confirmed what the status of [Days Gone 2] is. I don’t want to be the guy who’s the official source for whatever that is,” Ross said, expertly providing a non-answer to whether or not Sony had snubbed any plans for a sequel. As for what that sequel would have done if it were or is or might not be in development, Ross said that his Days Gone 2 pitch featured plans for “a shared universe with co-op play” (cheers for the transcription, VGC).
We wanted co-op from the beginning [in Days Gone 1], but obviously you have to make concessions for what you’re not going to be able to do. It would’ve been a secondary mode if we’d have done it in the first one, or even in another one. I wouldn’t have complicated the main narrative… because that’s really what we’re good at. That was the strength of the first title, so build on that and make it better.
But then take this world that you’ve built, and all these assets and systems, and repurpose them for some sort of similarly themed multiplayer version of this universe. So [it] would be with guys like Deacon trying to survive, building up a clubhouse or a crew. I think it would be fun to be in that world cooperatively and see what horde battles could be like.
The problem here is that despite the game ultimately being commercially successful, Sony’s attitude to its first-party releases is that they need to have critical acclaim as well. With a 71 score on Metacritic, Days Gone didn’t have that essential widespread praise that games like Ghost of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part 2, and God of War had. Sony’s strategy according to the Bloomberg report is that it wants every first-party game to be a monumental AAA blockbuster hit.
While Ross did mention that Sony is still “very supportive and hands-off” with its development teams, the pressure to be a day one success story still hangs over the heads of its various studios. It’s all on you buddy, energy. “We always assume that places like EA and Activision are letting spreadsheets drive the decisions and that’s never been the case at Sony in my experience,” Ross said said. “We’re all smart and we understand that we have to create something commercial, but they’re not jamming that down our throat.
“Games are expensive, movies are expensive… in order to make more, the initial ones need to make money. I do think that the more you overthink something, the more you’re destined to doom it and that’s why I like the loose format at Sony. Even in the Schreier report where he talks about them tightening things up, they still trust their developers tremendously.”
Sony’s current schedule of upcoming games exclusive to the PS5 console includes Returnal on April 30, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart on June 11, and Deathloop in September.
Last Updated: April 12, 2021