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Whoops! Real phone sex numbers pop up in video game

In what the developers are claiming is an "honest mistake," a number included in Naughty Dog and Sony's acclaimed zombie game "The Last of Us" lead players to a phone sex hotline.
In what the developers are claiming is an "honest mistake," a number included in Naughty Dog and Sony's acclaimed zombie game "The Last of Us" lead players to a phone sex hotline. The Last of Us

Despite releasing one of the highest-rated video games ever made, developer Naughty Dog can't seem to catch a break for "The Last of Us." Already accused by actress Ellen Page and a Boston transit cartographer for borrowing some of their respective work without permission, this week the video game developer found itself in hot water once again for another hiccup in "The Last of Us": apparently, a phone number that players saw in the game advertising for pest control actually dialed up a real-world phone sex service.

I tested out the "quality pest control" number from "The Last of Us" on Friday and was met with a sultry female voice promising me that "we're smooth, wet, and ready for you right now!"

Naughty Dog didn't respond to a request for comment, but Sony provided NBC News with a statement explaining that the connection with a phone sex service was a mistake that will be rectified with a patch to be released Saturday:

We included some random phone numbers in the game starting with 555, which is a common practice in North American television shows, films and video games, as they are fictitious numbers. It has come to light that for certain 555 phone numbers that begin with an 800 area code, the same does not apply, so we are now creating a patch to address this issue, which we plan on deploying today.

Neil Druckmann, the game's creative director, told the video game site Kotaku that including the sex line in the game "was an artist's mistake" and was not intended as any sort of prank or Easter egg for players.

"What happened was, they put some phone numbers in the game and then they thought they could just change the area code to 555, then it's invalid because it's what they do in movies," Druckmann told Kotaku's Kirk Hamilton. "But I guess that doesn't work when you have a 1-800 in front of it.

"We're now working to take it out," Druckmann said. "It was just an honest mistake."

Earlier this week, Druckmann took to Twitter to stand behind the work of Ashley Johnson, who did the voice-over and motion-capture work for Ellie in the game, after Ellen Page suggested that Naughty Dog had unfairly "ripped off" her likeness for the zombie story.

This story was updated at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday.

Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: ylejacq@gmail.com.