A Bloomberg report from Jason Schreier brings forth details about some unrest at PlayStation as it is looking to prioritize its biggest franchises. Visual Arts Service Group is a particular focus in the report. The team had helped complete games designed at Sony studios but wanted to be more creative and lead games, as opposed to always being a support studio.
The team founder, Michael Mumbauer, reportedly began working on a remake of 2013’s The Last of Us for PlayStation 5 with a development team of 30 he had formed. However, Sony never properly recognized this team within the company and never provided the funding it needed to compete in the industry.
The original plan was actually to remake the first Uncharted game, but those plans were thrown out because it was too expensive and would be too much work. Mumbauer’s team then decided to pitch a remake of The Last of Us as it was considered a less risky venture. If the project were successful, then the team would receive more recognition within Sony and the industry.
Project T1X, as it became known, would reportedly be in line with The Last of Us Part II in both gameplay and feel. Additionally, it could have been packaged together with the sequel for PlayStation 5. By going down this road, the team could establish itself and then pitch the Uncharted remake and other projects in the future.
However, as the team planned to enter full production on T1X, they got roped into finishing off The Last of Us Part II. After the game released, some Naughty Dog members were assigned to help out with T1X, including ones that worked on the original game. This in turn resulted in Naughty Dog’s developers having more say in T1X’s creative direction.
The project’s budget was also moved under Naughty Dog’s, and Mumbauer’s team ultimately segued back into a support role as Naughty Dog essentially took control of the project — the opposite of what Visual Arts Service Group had wanted.
Unfortunately, most of T1X’s top members have reportedly left, including Mumbauer and David Hall, the game’s director. However, the project is still in development and the remainder of the Visual Arts team is supporting it.