In the storyline world of The Last of Us, Outbreak Day was September 26, and it was the day where the Cordyceps virus that destroyed the world had spread nationwide, reaching censorious mass. A national emergency was then issued with the army taking charge under martial law.
When Joel spoke of Outbreak Day in the first game, he stated that, “families were torn apart,” and called it, “a God-awful mess.”
Typically, Naughty Dog uses September 26 to launch new merchandise or news regarding the franchise. However, calling it Outbreak Day this year, when there is an actual virus outbreak infecting and killing people worldwide, seemed to be in poor taste.
Naughty Dog agreed.
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) September 22, 2020
“For the last seven years, September 26 has been our opportunity to recognize and celebrate the increasing passion of The Last of Us community,” Naughty Dog said in a tweet. “However, as we thought about the events of the last year and the challenges we all continue to face with COVID-19, we didn’t feel right continuing on under the ‘Outbreak Day’ banner. While the name and date are rooted in the fiction of the game, September 26 means so much more than lore. It’s about showing our appreciation for our fans.
“That’s why, this Saturday and moving forward, September 26 will be known as The Last of Us Day – a name that not only acknowledges the world around us, but also reflects on the growth of the community as we welcome millions of new players with the release of The Last of Us Part II. We have a lot of exciting things planned and we can’t wait to share them with you in just a few days!”
Of course, if you’ve been paying attention, you’d know that 2020 has been both a good and bad year for Naughty Dog. Employee reports of a crunch culture environment coupled with major leaks for The Last of Us Part II led many to review bomb the game and gave Naughty Dog a serious dent in its reputation.
However, despite all of this, The Last of Us Part II was a huge critical and commercial success. The professional community gave it near universal praise. And while user reviews tanked, money does not lie. The game moved more than four million copies in its first three days, setting records for the PlayStation 4.