Naughty Dog Mentions Recent Employee Departures From Studio Are “Not Significant at All”

Over the last several months, Naughty Dog grabbed many headlines as the studio underwent many employee departures, notably with Uncharted writer Amy Hennig leaving the studio in March to join Visceral Games, followed shortly after by other staff involved with the development of The Last of Us.

However, in an interview with Game Informer, Naughty Dog co-presidents Christophe Balestra and Evan Wells commented on the recent employee departures, and mentioning that overall it is something not unusual for the studio, and that the company is very easy to adapt with these sort of changes. Wells mentioned:

“It’s not significant at all. In the course of the last generation, we’ve had art directors, creative directors, co-presidents and co-founders leave the company and we just keep going.

“We’ve replaced that talent and we’ve filled the gaps. Some bumps are harder to smooth out than others. We work it out.”

In addition, Wells also commented on the situation in regard to the press and media, mentioning that the feelings within the studio on the departures are quite the opposite of how they are being represented in the media:

“To us, it’s kind of strange because the perception and what’s being ‘reported’ is in stark contrast to the feeling here at the studio.”

“Everyone here is energized and excited to show off what we’ve been working on. There are no doom and gloom feelings, unlike what’s being portrayed by the ‘journalists’ that are writing these stories. It would be comical if it hadn’t persisted as long as it has – it’s just not going away. Every single departure, or now even hires, are being reported as if it’s big news.”

Join the Discussion

  • H Karlsson

    Its strange, that so many respected sites took/ran with it. For so long.
    At least Giuseppe Nelva (spelling?) wrote an article with some good news.
    That shit really cheered me up.

    • JustGaming

      Click baiting. Doom and gloom is like flies to s*** with the good old trolls and fan boys, it’s guaranteed to draw hits to their respective sites. Remember the hubbub over people leaving Retro Studios (Nintendo)? Practically the whole world and their dog ignored the fact that they took on people from various studios (some of which had closed), and at one point took on an artist from Naughty Dog. As one industry worker said recently, it happens all of the time in every creative industry (and others besides).

      • H Karlsson

        Words of wisdom my friend. Sadly they´re often lost among the shit.

    • barom

      What? Stop drinking the cool aid man. Giuseppe also reported the rumors that surrounded the firings including the rumor that there was an internal struggle between Amy and the Last Of Us people. In fact, this is where I got that information from. If anything, the Naughty Dog presidents are referring to sites like dualshockers who latch onto every rumor and twitter messages that may sound interesting or even just hint at something interesting: oh here’s a someone teasing E3 announcements, NEWS!!!

  • superkarma

    Ouch, that’s kinda a slap in the face to those who left. I’m assuming he didn’t mean to come off that way (or maybe he did?) but it certainly sounds like a dickish comment to make. They’d be better off not even commenting on it at all.

    As for his other comments about the overall company morale, he definitely has a good point with that. A lot of these sites/”journalists” seem to think they know exactly what they’re talking about. In fact, they have no clue and are just playing the guessing game like everyone else.

    • JustGaming

      Nah, I think he was trying to say “It happens and we move on”, and it’s not significant in terms of impacting the development/work environment at ND.

      • superkarma

        Yeah, that’s how I see it as well. I can see how someone could take it to mean something else, though. I guess it’s just how you read it. I’m sure he had good intentions, though.

  • stealth20k

    What else would they say?

    • Guest

      ummm… like mario kart 8 is 720p without any AA whatsoever ? LOL

      • JustGaming

        Am still a s***-ton of fun.

        Troll harder.

        • Porcu Peth

          That’s irrelevant. Biased journalism and click baiting is relevant.

          • JustGaming

            Just like the guest comment was irrelevant? Seems like he was just having a poke at stealth20k.

            Also, see my comments above for my opinion on click-baiting.

      • albatrosMyster

        But have you seen Mario Kart 8?!?!?!
        Seriously, I would have taken a Driveclub without AA for 60fps…

      • GodGamerDerp

        A bunch of nintenkiddies were insisting to me it was 1080p 60 fps. I said no it’s probably 720p, wait for it to launch.

        Right again as usual.

    • They Call Me Senpai

      Why would they say anything else? People leave jobs for new/better ones all the time.

    • GodGamerDerp

      They said the truth, apparently you have to question reality out of childish fanboyism.

      • stealth20k

        sorry I ignore troll posts.

        • GodGamerDerp

          Your post was a troll post.

  • Mus1ckFPS


  • Mellow_Butch

    Sony should re-examine Balestra and Wells and really determine whether they are fit for the positions they are in. They just seem extremely unprofessional in in how they treat talent and maybe that’s why there’s a high turn-over at Naughty Dog to begin with. It’s the beginning of a new generation of hardware -OF COURSE- there’s going to be a higher degree of scrutiny on Sony first party studios, if you’re surprised by that you’re a dope. I don’t care what questions were asked you don’t push major decision makers out and later say it’s insignificant that they’re gone like rubbing salt in a wound. Who does that? These kinds of comments burn bridges not only with the devs that left, but it also makes prospective devs think twice before accepting a job at Naughty Dog in the future.

    • MisterHoot

      Not really though

      A company as big as ND, it’s normal, and people who work there know it. It’s not only ND but this kind of shit happens in all big games companies around the world. I’m also confused why the ones affecting ND are reported in particular as something huge.

      Another thing in game dev is that often you’ll see people going in and out because it’s very tiring for some to work on the same type of projects and they just leave once something it’s done. Making games sounds fun but 75% it’s frustrating, boring, stressful and at the end of a dev cycle you usually wanna change backgrounds.

      The only time you should worry about a game’s company if it hits major layoffs after a game’s release. Not if a couple of guys leave. That usually just means they wanna go do something else.

    • GameDev345

      You clearly just turned over everything that was implied in this article

      high turn over? you mean four out of 250.
      push major decision makers out? where did you hear that? Can’t those developers look for jobs in other places if they aren’t needed anymore

      extremely unprofessional in how they treat talent? If you read the full interview most of their talents is still there and more than happy, Corrie Yu from 343 studios moved there, they just hired an animation director from Ubisoft.

    • albatrosMyster

      You should see the bloodshed they went through before they shipped the first Uncharted… yet they made it, then went on to make Uncharted 2, 3 and The Last of US!

      It was just not in the news as much back then… truth is, nobody knows how much of Amy Hennings work was done before she left, as good as she is, there are other great writers out there, someone else will have a chance to shine.

      We shall see how the game turns out in the end, this is 3 or 4 people out of over 200 after all… even if they are considered key, they’re not alone.

      • Mellow_Butch

        I have no doubt that the game will be good it’s still something that’s completely within their wheel house being a sequel and part an established franchise. It’s hard to screw it up when the previous games have all been developed in-house.

        “…In the course of the last generation, we’ve had art directors, creative directors, co-presidents and co-founders leave the company…”

        This isn’t the janitors that have left and it’s not the lowest artist on the totem pole. It’s also not like ND has over 1,000 employees and 5 or 6 development teams. With the exception of mega studios like Ubisoft, Epic, Valve, EA etc. that kind of constant shake-up in decision makers eventually creates problems especially if the environment is hostile and the office managers are publicly throwing people that aren’t with the company anymore under the bus like Balestra and Wells did.

        The main reason why these departures became news is because the people that were gone were already knee deep in development of a well regarded franchise on a brand new platform and were suddenly tossed out and now main characters are being re-cast after close to two years of development. More to the point, with ND being a first party studio they clearly had early access to the PS4 which would mean that Uncharted should have been finished by now or close to it if there weren’t issues.

    • GodGamerDerp

      High turn-over? You’re joking, right?

  • Dennis

    When it comes to actual real gaming related news, websites like IGN are the last to report them or neglect them completely. But when it comes down to posting click bait fanboy articles with misleading titles (and moreover misleading content), they are the first.

    • albatrosMyster

      Sometimes when I load the site I wonder if this is a gaming site after all… even after clicking on a console name at the top, this is not so clear.

  • supersungin

    sorry for the person

  • albatrosMyster

    I think employees in visible positions like those departing is significant, just not in the way it was made out to be, as pointed out in the article, ND (and many other studios) went though many such events, sometimes for the better, other times a Studio cannot recover… The public will never know until their next game ship, it could be the best ever, or their worst or all of their projects get cancelled and they close doors.

    So all we can do is wait and see, there is no reason to be either happy or sadened for it, only the people inside will ever know (and no, no gaming journalist will tell you, only a leak, maybe…)

  • Fanorootbeer

    Good job not linking the source, there.

    • Ani X

      The source is linked at the end of the article. 🙂

      • Fanorootbeer

        Oh good, thanks for pointing that out. I wanted to read the entire interview but couldn’t find the friggin’ link (probably because it’s in size 6 font).

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