Today Naughty Dog announced via an official blog post that Co-President Christophe Balestra is retiring, leaving the company on April 3rd.
You can read the full message below, with Balestra himself mentioning that it’s time for him to spend more time with his family and pursue personal projects.
“I never thought I would be saying something this difficult so soon — after fifteen years here, I am announcing my departure from Naughty Dog. My last day will be on April 3, 2017.
It’s very challenging to come to the realization that it’s time to step away from a career to pursue fulfilling personal ambitions and projects. I am doing it now out of utmost respect for the team and their unwavering dedication to Naughty Dog and our projects. The time has come for me to now spend more time with my family and create a void to see what I can fill it with (which will obviously involve programming).
Joining Naughty Dog in 2002 was the biggest decision for my family and my career. I was excited to join the team that created Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter. For me, the biggest appeal was working with the team responsible for games I love to play, ones that also looked stunning and were technically ahead of their time. I would have never guessed what my future at Naughty Dog would look like when I joined the studio as a programmer.
I had the luxury and the honor to work with the most determined, talented and perfectionist people in our industry during my time at Naughty Dog. The collective high ambitions of everyone on the team have led us to ship some of the most awarded and critically acclaimed games of all time. I always smile when we’re asked what our secret is. We don’t have any — we dedicate ourselves to assembling the best and most determined group of programmers, designers and artists we can find. Our “secret” is and, always will be, the talent and drive of the whole team at Naughty Dog. That’s why I can step away feeling confident about the future of Naughty Dog — because the team is only losing only one of its many members.
Twelve years ago, when Evan and I became Co-Presidents, Naughty Dog was facing a challenging future with the transition to a new platform while developing a new engine and an entirely new franchise simultaneously. Looking back and seeing where we managed to take the studio in just over a decade is undoubtedly my biggest professional achievement. Evan has been the perfect partner and I couldn’t imagine achieving the success we’ve had without him. It’s been a privilege to work with you, my friend.
Thanks from the bottom of my heart to everyone I worked with during the last fifteen years, it’s just been incredible.”
As perhaps the most fitting form of farewell, Balestra concluded with a tease on things to come:
“And to all the fans… I know what’s in store and, with Evan leading the best team on the planet as President, I know that Naughty Dog will continue to blow you away!”
Cristophe Balestra joined Naughty Dog in 2002, as a Senior Programmer. He then climbed the ranks over the years through the roles of Lead Programmer, Programming Director, Vice President of Technology and then landing in his position as Co-President in 2007.
At the moment Naughty Dog is working on the Uncharted: The Lost Legacy stand-alone expansion, and The Last of Us: Part II. The existence of other projects has been mentioned in passing, but no information is available on their nature.