Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells retiring after 25 years

Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells will retire from the studio at the end of the year, it was announced.

Wells has been discussing retirement with the Naughty Dog studio leadership team for “well over a year, and with Neil [Druckmann] for even longer than that.”

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While the decision has caused some “overwhelming and conflicting emotions,” Wells said there is nothing felt but contentment when it comes to spending the last 25 years at the studio.

“I couldn’t be more confident in Neil’s ability to carry on running the studio,” said Wells in a statement.”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.”

Wells has been developing games professionally for over 30 years and has nothing but gratitude for everything learned at Naughty Dog, despite such a bittersweet departure.

“I couldn’t be more excited about our current projects, and not getting to see those games to completion is going to be hard,” said Wells. “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.

“I have no doubt Naughty Dog will reach new heights and continue to raise the bar for the state of the art.”

Wells’ first video game gig was at SEGA, and worked on ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron before heading to Crystal Dynamics in 1995. Here, Wells worked on Gex and Gex: Enter the Gecko before moving on to Naughty Dog in 1998 to work on several Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter titles. Wells became co-president of the studio alongside Stephen White in 2005, who was replaced the following year by Christophe Balestra, who in turn retired in 2017, making Wells the sole president.

During Wells’ tenure as co-president, the studio released the Uncharted series and The Last of Us. As president, Wells oversaw the release of The Last of Us Part 2 until Neil Druckmann’s promotion to co-president in 2020.

Wells was also an executive producer for the Uncharted film and The Last of Us HBO series.

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