The Last of Us Part 2 multiplayer could be free-to-play, according to a new Naughty Dog job listing.
The listing (via ScreenRant (opens in new tab)) is for a senior monetization/economy designer (opens in new tab) at the studio, and says that the job "will focus on in-game initiatives to increase revenue and conversion while maintaining a strong player-first value system." Responsibilities include "design[ing] sustainable monetization systems in line with the game's vision" and "collaborat[ing] across the broader development team to maintain the game economy for the life of the game."
The successful candidate will have at least two years' experience working on "monetization and economy systems for a live service game," and will ideally have built a monetization model from scratch in the past. While monetization models can be unpopular, Naughty Dog asks specifically for someone with "deep insight into non-destructive game monetization."
The words 'free-to-play' don't feature in the job listing at all, but mentions of an "in-game store" and a broader game economy for a live-service venture certainly hint at that possibility. Premium titles do often feature monetization options, but Naughty Dog seems to be looking at a pretty robust system here, which could mean it veers away from a paid-for game.
The listing also doesn't really mention The Last of Us, other than a brief nod to the recent sequel's success in light of the studio's overall heritage. That said, The Last of Us 2 multiplayer was cut from the game ahead of its release in 2020, and the studio says it's still working on bringing it back as a standalone experience. Back in August, the studio began a significant hiring push for its "first standalone multiplayer game," and unless it's been hiding something to do with Nathan Drake extremely well, it seems likely that this is something to do with the studio's apocalyptic action game.