Naughty Dog Co-President Evan Wells Announces Retirement After 25 Years

In a message shared with the Naughty Dog team today and then later published online, Co-President Evan Wells announced his retirement from the video game development studio. After a career spanning 25 years, Wells revealed that he would be stepping down at the end of the year.

Wells expressed mixed emotions as he made the decision to retire, stating, “This is something that I’ve been discussing with Naughty Dog’s Studio Leadership Team for over a year, and with Neil [Druckmann, co-president] 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.”

The co-president also expressed confidence in the studio’s future, highlighting the capable leadership that will guide Naughty Dog moving forward. “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,” he said. “Neil and the rest of the capable and dynamic Studio Leadership Team are 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.”

Despite his retirement, Wells conveyed his excitement for the studio’s ongoing projects, stating, “I couldn’t be more excited about our current projects, and not getting to see those games to completion is going to be hard.” He expressed his confidence in the team’s ability to deliver games that would set industry standards and exceed expectations. You can find Wells’ complete statement here.

Naughty Dog has faced criticism for alleged labor exploitation and resistance to unions. In 2021, both Wells and Druckmann expressed skepticism about unions as a solution to address crunch in the video game industry, questioning its effectiveness. Wells, in an interview, mentioned that limiting employees’ work hours to 40 per week would lead to frustration.

Similarly, in 2020, Druckmann emphasized the studio’s dedication to attracting passionate individuals who work diligently to create impactful games while implementing necessary safeguards. Druckmann also said in an interview that striking a balance between preventing excessive work and maintaining their high standard of games would be challenging.

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