Sony apologizes for Sony interview with Sony developer Neil Druckmann

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 12: Neil Druckmann attends the AFI Awards at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 12, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sony has apologized to Naughty Dog studio boss Neil Druckmann for "misrepresenting his words" in a recent promotional interview, which it acknowledged contained "several significant errors and inaccuracies." The interview has now been taken down.

In the interview published by Sony last week, Druckmann reportedly praised the potential of generative AI, saying it is "opening the door for us to take on more adventurous projects and push the boundaries of storytelling in games." He also talked up the studio's next game, which he said "could redefine mainstream perceptions of gaming."

But shortly after the interview went up, Druckmann took to Twitter to clarify that the reported statement about redefining perceptions of gaming was "not quite what I said." 

"In editing my rambling answers in my recent interview with Sony, some of my words, context, and intent were unfortunately lost," Druckmann very diplomatically tweeted.

That's putting it mildly: Druckmann also provided the full text of his response to the question about "future innovation" in gaming, and nowhere does he say any of the words attributed to him in the published interview. As far as I can tell, the closest he comes is to say that, thanks to the success of The Last of Us television show on Amazon, "people even outside of gaming are looking at us to see what it is that we put out next"—a far more attenuated and reasonable statement.

(Image credit: Neil Druckmann)

We noted the change in our report on the interview, but an obvious question was left hanging: If Sony so thoroughly mangled Druckmann's answer to that question, what about the rest of them? And now we have our answer.

"In re-reviewing our recent interview with Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann, we have found several significant errors and inaccuracies that don't represent his perspective and values (including topics such as animation, writing, technology, AI, and future projects)," Sony said in a statement that's replaced the interview. "We apologize to Neil for misrepresenting his words and for any negative impact this interview might have caused him and his team. In coordination with Naughty Dog and SIE, we have removed the interview."

It's a remarkable walkback, and a very big bucket of egg on Sony's face. The interview with Druckmann was conducted by Sony, for Sony—Naughty Dog is a Sony studio—and the difference between what Druckmann said, and what Sony put out for public consumption, is not subtle. It's not even close

The net result is that Sony has not only managed to irritate one of its most prominent developers to the point that he was willing to drag the company for it (Druckmann's tweet was diplomatic, yes, but also unmistakably not happy), it's also cast doubts on its wider credibility: How often has this happened, unnoticed or unremarked upon, in the past?

I suppose one possibility—and this is purely speculative, because Sony hasn't commented further—is that someone decided to clean up Druckmann's commentary with an AI-powered summary and didn't bother to check the output. As awful and embarrassing as that would be, it's probably the best possible explanation from Sony's perspective. "We relied on the machine and got burned" ain't great, but it's a whole lot better than, "We wilfully misrepresented the words of one of our top guys because we thought it would make for more effective PR."

I've reached out to Sony for comment and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.