In a surprising announcement, Naughty Dog, the renowned video game developer behind critically acclaimed titles such as The Last of Us and the Uncharted series, revealed that its Co-President Evan Wells will be retiring at the end of this year. This news marks the end of an era for the studio, as Wells has been an integral part of Naughty Dog for an impressive 25 years.
Wells shared this news with the Naughty Dog team, expressing his mixed emotions about the decision. The retirement plan has been in discussion with Naughty Dog’s Studio Leadership Team for over a year, with Wells reflecting on his journey and accomplishments during his tenure. Starting as the 14th employee back in 1998 during the Crash Bandicoot days, Wells has witnessed the studio’s growth from its humble beginnings to a powerhouse in the gaming industry.
Having dedicated over half of his life to Naughty Dog, Wells has been involved in numerous milestone projects. From Crash Team Racing to Jak 2, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and The Last of Us, each major game release has coincided with significant personal milestones for Wells. His contributions have been immeasurable, and his leadership has helped shape Naughty Dog into the industry-leading studio it is today.
Wells expressed his confidence in the capable hands of Neil Druckmann, Naughty Dog’s other Co-President, and the Studio Leadership Team to guide the studio into a successful future. Druckmann, known for his creative vision and directorial work on The Last of Us series, will take on an expanded role as Head of Creative, overseeing the studio’s business strategy and creative direction.
As part of the leadership reshuffle, Alison Mori, the current Vice President, will be promoted to Studio Manager and Head of Operations, responsible for managing the overall operations and finances of the studio. Additionally, Arne Meyer, another Vice President, will become Head of Culture and Communications, focusing on long-term cultural impact and employee well-being. Christian Girling, also a Vice President, will assume the role of Head of Technology, driving innovation and technological advancements.
The retirement of Evan Wells marks a significant transition for Naughty Dog. While bidding farewell to a legendary figure in the gaming industry is bittersweet, it also opens up new opportunities for growth and fresh perspectives within the studio. Wells leaves behind a remarkable legacy and a foundation of excellence that will undoubtedly continue to shape Naughty Dog’s future endeavors.
Fans and industry professionals alike will eagerly watch as Naughty Dog embarks on its next chapter, building upon its rich history of delivering groundbreaking gaming experiences. Evan Wells’ retirement serves as a reminder of the lasting impact he has had on Naughty Dog and the industry as a whole. His dedication, leadership, and contributions will be celebrated and remembered by gamers worldwide.