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Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells to retire from studio

Wells' tenure at Naughty Dog began in 1998 and takes him through the developer's growth from platformers to blockbuster hits like The Last of Us Part II.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 12, 2023

2 Min Read
Picture of Naughty Dog's Neil Druckmann and Evan Wells at the 2016 Game Awards.

Evan Wells, a longtime developer at Naughty Dog and its current co-president, announced he'll be retiring from the studio at the end of the year. 

In a statement first shared with Naughty Dog staff, he explained that he is "content with my time at the studio and all that we’ve accomplished together over the last 25 years. [...] 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 first began his game industry tenure at Sega, where he worked on Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron. He later moved to Crystal Dynamics in 1995 to help develop the first two Gex games, and finally settled on Naughty Dog in 1998. 

Starting as a lead designer on Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, Wells would go to design Naughty Dog's final games in those series (Crash Team Racing and Crash Bash), and all four Jak games. He became co-president in 2005 ahead of the release of 2007's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, a role he's had since.

What's next for Naughty Dog?

In a separate announcement, co-president Neil Druckmann outlined the changes to come to Naughty Dog's leadership team.

Going forward, he'll now serve as the studio's creative head. His duties will involve "ensuring that I will be able to invest in the future of our projects, creative vision, and overall business strategy."

Alison Mori will be promoted to studio head and oversee Naught Dog's overall operations and finances. New additions to the leadership team include Erick Pangilinan and Jeremy Yates (as co-heads of art) and Anthony Newman (production head). 

"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," wrote Druckmann. "Thank you, Evan; for your knowledge, your love of this studio and the industry... your inspiring leadership will forever be part of our DNA."

In the midst of all this, Naughty Dog's next project is uncertain. A Bloomberg report from May revealed development on he Last of Us' standalone multiplayer game was being reexamined as the studio reconsidered its long-term prospects. 

Responding to that report, the studio insisted development on the multiplayer title was still in the works, alongside "our other games in development, including a brand-new single-player experience."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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