Some changes are coming to Naughty Dog’s leadership team as the studio’s co-president Evan Wells announces his departure after working there for 25 years.

Naughty Dog's leadership reshuffle following the retirement of co-president Evan Wells

What happened?

According to Wells’ post on the Naughty Dog website, he has been discussing his retirement with the studio’s leads for over a year.

“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,” Wells noted, although the clear reason behind his departure remains undisclosed.

He will retire from Naughty Dog at the end of 2023.

Evan Wells started his gamedev career at Sega in 1993, where he worked as a level designer on platformer ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron. He then moved to Crystal Dynamics, serving as lead designer on the first two titles in the Gex series.

Wells joined Naughty Dog in 1998 during the production of Crash Bandicoot: Wrapped. He became only the 14th employee at the studio and worked there in various roles, from lead designer to co-president.

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.

Evan Wells

co-president at Naughty Dog

How will Naughty Dog’s leadership team change after Wells retires?

In a separate post, Neil Druckmann, who is currently the studio’s co-president, announced that the leadership team should reflect “the next chapter for Naughty Dog.”

  • Neil Druckmann will take on the role of Head of Creative, being responsible for the studio’s business strategy and creative vision.
  • Alison Mori, currently vice president, will be promoted to Studio Manager and Head of Operations and will be responsible for Naughty Dog’s overall operations and finances.
  • Arne Meyer, currently vice president, will become Head of Culture and Communications to continue “his work in developing long term cultural impact and wellbeing at the studio.”
  • Christian Gyrling, another vice president, will be Head of Technology responsible for innovation and developing new technical solutions.
  • Art director Erick Pangilinan and animation director Jeremy Yates will become co-heads of the studio’s art departments.
  • Anthony Newman, one of the game directors of The Last of Us: Part II, will be promoted to Head of Production and Design.

“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,” Druckmann said in a statement, adding that these reshuffles will allow Naughty Dog to be accessible, agile, and scalable.

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