The Last of Us’ Bill and Frank episode got loads of people playing PS5

By Lee Brady,

HBO's The Last of Us influenced over 200% more PS5 and PS4 owners to play The Last of Us Part I and Part II while the show aired.

The number of players collecting The Last of Us Part I trophies spiked massively while the 2023 HBO TV adaptation was airing. We said in our The Last of Us Part I review that the PS5 game was "an excellent example of good video games as art," and after The Last of Us TV show's excellent third episode aired, a peak of 203% more people were playing The Last of Us Part I and II and probably coming to the same conclusion.

The Last of UsThe Last of Us influences The Last of Us.

HBO's The Last of Us' influence on PS5 and PS4 players, per episode

Using gameplay data from over 3 million active PS5 and PS4 accounts — the very same data we use every week to produce our PlayStation Chart — we were able to see that a combined 203% more players were playing both The Last of Us Part I and Part II the week following the airing of the TV show's third episode compared to the week before the show's first episode aired.

We noticed on January 3rd, 2023 — less than two weeks before the first episode of HBO's The Last of Us was set to air — both The Last of Us Part I and Part II suddenly entered the top 40 most played PS5 and PS4 game chart together. The Last of Us Part I, which was released in September 2022, was last spotted in the top 40 on October 24th, 2022; Part II dropped out much earlier, seeing it was first released back in 2019. So, it seemed as though gamers were booking up on The Last of Us games before the HBO show aired.

The Last of UsBill from the show and Part I, the PS5 game.

Now, looking over the entire run of HBO's The Last of Us, we can see clearly the massive influence the show had on the game's player numbers. Compared to the week before the show's airing, by which time both games were already back in the top 40 most played PS5 and PS4 games, The Last of Us Part I saw a peak 270% player count increase and The Last of Us Part II saw a peak 187.7% increase. By March 13th, the day after the final episode of the TV show aired, Part I had sustained an overall 184% player count increase and Part II an overall 120.5% player increase.

To help track the overall influence of the TV show, we created a breakdown to see how many PS5 and PS4 owners were actively playing The Last of Us Part I and II after each episode of the show aired. Please note that the figures beside each episode are pulled the day after that episode airs, so any particular episode's influence will only reach its peak and be visible the week after. So, to see the full influence Episode 3 had on active The Last of Us Part I players, you'll need to look at the percentage change after Episode 4 aired.

EpisodeRelease dateTLOU Part I players (Top 40 rank)TLOU Part II players (Top 40 rank)
Pre-Episode 1 January 8, 2023 (34th, up 4)- (38th, up 1)
Episode 1January 15, 2023+15.2% (27th, up 7)-5.6% (39th, down 1)
Episode 2January 22, 2023+55% (15th, up 12)+25.7% (29th, up 10)
Episode 3January 29, 2023-18.7% (14th, up 1)-18.5% (29th, no change)
Episode 4February 5, 2023+21.1% (14, no change)+23.2% (27th, up 2)
Episode 5February 12, 2023-8.5% (14th, no change)-1.3% (29th, down 2)
Episode 6February 19, 2023-13.5% (15, down 1)+2.5% (23rd, up 6)
Episode 7February 26, 2023-3% (19, down 4)+8.9% (23rd, no change)
Episode 8March 5, 2023-26.4% (20, down 1)-18.8% (24th, down 1)
Episode 9March 12, 2023+17% (21, down 1)+17% (31st, down 7)
We will add the post-Episode 9 data in a future update to fully see the influence of the HBO show's finale.
So what insights might we glean from this wall of ever-shifting player numbers? Well, the most important takeaway is that a lot of people started playing The Last of Us games while the show was airing. We can also see the already fairly high numbers getting a substantial +20% boost across both games just as Episode 4 is airing, which tells us that Episode 3 — the much-acclaimed episode that gives a glimpse into the lives of post-apocalypse survivors Bill and Frank — brought a significant proportion of players to the game series.

The Last of Us Part 1TLOU Part 1 getting a substantial boost from the show.

Things take a downturn after Episode 7 (check the Episode 8 figures), which was the Left Behind adaptation, but seemingly bounce back up in time for the show's finale. As for each game's specific peak episode, The Last of Us Part I saw its largest share of players in the wake of Episode 3, and players gathered in droves to collect The Last of Us Part II trophies after Episode 6 aired. That was the week the internet buzzed loudest about a potential Abby casting, so perhaps that helped point some new fans towards the second game.

Our last little factoid: at no point during the entire show's run did The Last of Us Remastered, the original PS4 port of the game released in 2014, even enter the Top 200 most played PS5 and PS4 games. It seems when it came time to check out Naughty Dog's opus, the vast majority of players were only interested in the latest PS5 version of the game. Luckily, not only is The Last of Us Part I one of the best PS5 games available, it's also just one of the best games, period.

thelastofusDid the show influence Sony's wallets, though?

Let us know in the comments all your thoughts and feelings about HBO's The Last of Us and whether the show influenced you to check out the game series on PS5 and PS4!

Chart compiled using gameplay data from over 3 million active PlayStation accounts. Chart information is copyright GameInsights.
Lee Brady
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee loves to write about classic PS1 games on PS Plus, examining the game design of upcoming PS5 games like Marvel's Spider-Man 2 and Like a Dragon Ishin, and his shameless love of Sonic, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts games. He's also your resident PlayStation Stars guy.
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