“Working here has been awe inspiring and I have nothing but gratitude for everything that I’ve been able to learn and be a part of,” Wells said in a message. “And, getting to collaborate with the passionate and driven teams at SIE and the other PlayStation Studios has been a pleasure. I’ve never taken for granted the opportunity I’ve had to be surrounded by such impressive creativity and talent and I’m thankful to all—past and present—for teaching me so much.”
Wells continued, “There’s never a perfect time to step away, but I’m incredibly confident that I’ll be leaving the studio in the best hands. Neil and the rest of the capable and dynamic Studio Leadership Team are perfectly suited to ensure Naughty Dog continues to lead the industry—not only in the games we make, but the environment in which we make them. I am positive that Naughty Dog will continue to push the industry and our medium forward.”
In light of Wells’ departure, Naughty Dog co-president Neil Druckmann provided an update on the developer’s new leadership team going forward:
- Neil Druckmann will become co-head of studio alongside Wells until his departure, as well as head of creative.
- Alison Mori will become studio manager and head of operations.
- Arne Meyer will become head of culture and communications.
- Christian Gyrling will become head of technology.
- Erick Pangilinan and Jeremy Yates will become co-heads of the art departments.
- Anthony Newman will move into a new role as head of production and design.
Get the full messages from Wells and Druckmann below.
Message from Evan Wells
After 25 years at Naughty Dog, I wanted to share with all of you that I’ve decided to retire at the end of this year.
This is something that I’ve been discussing with Naughty Dog’s Studio Leadership Team for well over a year, and with Neil for even longer than that. The decision brings with it overwhelming and conflicting emotions, but I’ve come to realize that I’m content with my time at the studio and all that we’ve accomplished together over the last 25 years. I couldn’t be more confident in Neil’s ability to carry on running the studio. It’s the right time for me to provide the opportunity for him and the others on the Studio Leadership Team to steer the studio into a successful future.
I’ve been making games professionally for over 30 years, and Naughty Dog has been my home for over half my life! 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 II, 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.
Working here has been awe inspiring and I have nothing but gratitude for everything that I’ve been able to learn and be a part of. And, getting to collaborate with the passionate and driven teams at SIE and the other PlayStation Studios has been a pleasure. I’ve never taken for granted the opportunity I’ve had to be surrounded by such impressive creativity and talent and I’m thankful to all—past and present—for teaching me so much.
There’s never a perfect time to step away, but I’m incredibly confident that I’ll be leaving the studio in the best hands. Neil and the rest of the capable and dynamic Studio Leadership Team are perfectly suited to ensure Naughty Dog continues to lead the industry—not only in the games we make, but the environment in which we make them. I am positive that Naughty Dog will continue to push the industry and our medium forward.
I couldn’t be more excited about our current projects and not getting to see those games to completion is going to be hard. But we’ve 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.
Finally, to all the Dogs in the Kennel—I am humbled to see what you all have accomplished, and I am thrilled to have the honor to watch from the sidelines as you all continue to uphold the well-established development culture that has led to our good fortune and string of successful games. I have no doubt Naughty Dog will reach new heights and continue to raise the bar for the state of the art.
Thank you for what has truly been a tremendous adventure, I’m thrilled to see what the future holds for this inspiring team and I’m so proud of you all!
Message from Neil Druckmann
Today Evan Wells announced that after 25 years at Naughty Dog, he’ll be retiring at the end of 2023.
While he will very much still be part of the Studio Leadership Team until his departure, he and I have spent much of the past couple of years building a leadership structure that reflects our growing team at the Kennel and sets us up for the future.
As Evan has pointed out, our good fortune has led to immense and steady growth. With that kind of success and size comes the need to re-evaluate how we structure a Studio Leadership Team that reflects the next chapter for Naughty Dog.
At present, I will be Co-Head of the studio with Evan Wells, along with taking on the responsibilities of Head of Creative, ensuring that I will be able to invest in the future of our projects, creative vision, and overall business strategy.
Alison Mori is getting promoted to Studio Manager and Head of Operations, where she will be responsible for Naughty Dog’s overall operations and finances and will join me in steering the business of our studio.
Arne Meyer will be continuing his work in developing long term cultural impact and wellbeing at the studio and is now Head of Culture and Communications.
Our Head of Technology will be Christian Gyrling, who will continue to push us to new heights in innovation and technical solutions.
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.
Erick Pangilinan has been a tremendous asset for over 25 years with Naughty Dog, and his contributions both to the studio and to our games are without parallel and cannot be overstated, from progression to environment artist to Art Director to building our industry-leading outsourcing pipeline, the dedication and aptitude Erick brings to our studio is invaluable.
Jeremy Yates has brought expertise and craftsmanship to Naughty Dog for over 20 years, from Lead Animator on the Uncharted franchise to our first Animation Director, his contributions and organizational skills span across a multitude of projects, making him the perfect candidate to make the studio stronger.
Anthony Newman joined us during Uncharted 2 and went on to Co-Game Direct The Last of Us Part II. His high level of attention to detail and quality will undoubtedly aid us in bringing more rigor and standards to our processes to ensure we continue to craft our games in an environment that brings out the best in our creative process and in our talent.
While Evan will be terribly missed, I am confident that our evolved Studio Leadership Team will allow us to thrive and grow in new areas.
We wish Evan well in his well-earned retirement! He’s been extremely generous to stay on for much longer than he originally planned, working closely with us to thoroughly craft this new structure. I feel truly honored to have such a passionate, thoughtful, and talented team at Naughty Dog, and this growth reflects the ability to recognize the meaningful contributions from all departments, while setting up our studio to be more accessible, agile, and scalable.
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.