Earlier this week what appeared to be major spoilers from The Last of Us Part II leaked on YouTube and Reddit. Sony now says it knows who the leakers were, and contrary to widespread online speculation, can confirm they were not a disgruntled Naughty Dog employee.
“SIE has identified the primary individuals responsible for the unauthorized release of TLOU2 assets,” Sony said in a statement. “They are not affiliated with Naughty Dog or SIE.” The company said in its statement that it couldn’t comment any further on the circumstances around the leak, as it continues to investigate the matter.
Appearing online last weekend, the leaks spoiled major aspects of the game, including its ending. “It’s disappointing to see the release and sharing of pre-release footage from development,” Naughty Dog said in a statement on Monday. “Do your best to avoid spoilers and we ask that you don’t spoil it for others.”
Some news outlets at the time reported unfounded rumors that the leak had come from an upset Naughty Dog employee. It’s unclear what the original source of that rumor was, but it appeared to be based on speculation about the state of working conditions at Naughty Dog. In March Kotaku reported that the studio was in crunch mode trying to complete The Last of Us Part II and that the long hours were taking their toll on its developers.
A debate unfolded on social media over the efficacy of a developer potentially using a leak of this nature as leverage to prompt change in internal studio conditions. Some people argued that any means to affect necessary change would be justified, while others contended that such leaks would only hurt the leaking developer’s colleagues and their work.
In any case, the rumor that sparked that debate has now been debunked.
The Last of Us Part II was originally set to come out in May, but was indefinitely delayed earlier this month. On Monday, following the leaks, Sony announced the game has a new release date of June 19, just a few weeks after it was originally supposed to debut.
Update - 3:13 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Sony clarified in an email to Kotaku that the leakers were not former employees or contractors of either Sony or Naughty Dog.