Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells has announced he will be retiring from the developer after 25 years. Confirmed in a statement, he leaves Neil Druckmann as the sole president of the company along with the Studio Leadership Team, who Wells believes will "steer the studio into a successful future". He'll leave Naughty Dog at the end of this year.
"I’ve been making games professionally for over 30 years, and Naughty Dog has been my home for over half my life," he writes. "I’ve seen this studio grow from hire number 14 (me!) during the Crash 3 days in 1998 to over 400 Dogs today. Every major life milestone I can track with a Naughty Dog project – I met my wife during Crash Team Racing, we took our honeymoon after shipping Jak 2, had our first child E3 week when we announced Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and our second child was born right in the thick of development on The Last of Us."
Wells goes on to state that while it'll be hard for him not to see current Naughty Dog projects through to completion, he believes the developer has "never had a stronger team in place to ensure that we will deliver them in a way that will set industry standards and exceed all expectations".
First credited as a Lead Tester on the SEGA Mega Drive's ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron, Wells quickly joined Naughty Dog and worked on a vast array of titles. He helped on GEX and Gex: Enter the Gecko before moving on to the Jak & Daxter series.
In a separate post, Neil Druckmann says he will remain as co-head of the studio through until Wells leaves, and will also be head of creative so "that I will be able to invest in the future of our projects, creative vision, and overall business strategy". Alison Mori is being promoted to studio manager and head of operations, Arne Meyer becomes head of culture and communications, and Christian Gyrling is the new head of technology.
"Joining our already existing Studio Leadership bench will be Erick Pangilinan and Jeremy Yates as Co-Heads of our extensive and impressive Art Departments, while Anthony Newman will move into his new role as Head of Production and Design."
Druckmann signs off saying: "I know I speak for everyone at Naughty Dog when I say, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, Evan; for your knowledge, your love of this studio and the industry, and for the great care you took to ensure that our studio was always moving in the right direction, your inspiring leadership will forever be part of our DNA."