Naughty Dog has been developing the multiplayer title for at least four years. It started as a complementary mode to The Last of Us: Part II, the single-player game released in 2020, but the creators grew ambitious and decided to make it into its own game, Naughty Dog said.
Sony has invested heavily in "games as a service," or video games designed to be monetized beyond their initial sales through ongoing purchases. As part of that push it asked another of its video-game studios, Seattle-based Bungie, to evaluate the games across its portfolio. Bungie raised questions about the The Last of Us multiplayer project's ability to keep players engaged for a long period of time, which led to the reassessment.