Naughty Dog "just keeps going" after each talent exodus

Naughty Dog
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

June 3rd 2014 at 11:56AM

The Last of Us developer says recent spate of departures and hires is "not significant at all"

Naughty Dog has been grabbing headlines in recent months, but sadly this has had nothing to do with the games it is developing.

Back in March, Uncharted writer Amy Hennig made the shock announcement that she was leaving the studio, claiming to have been "forced out" by The Last of Us directors Neil Druckmann and Bruce Staley. This was quickly debunked by a statement from Naughty Dog co-presidents Christophe Balestra and Evan Wells.

However, this was just the beginning of a what seemed to be an exodus of talent with the game director of Uncharted 4, lead artist for The Last of Us and a lead character artist all departing the studio in the space of a month.

In an interview with Game Informer, Wells and Balestra both downplayed the impact of these departures, claiming that Naughty Dog has typically had quite a regular turnaround and simply adapts to any personnel changes.

"It's not significant at all," said Wells. "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."

Wells also decried the widespread reporting of the aforementioned departures, insisting that morale and production at the Uncharted studio has been unaffected.

"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," he said. 

"Everyone here is energised 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."

Naughty Dog is currently working on Uncharted 4 and a remastered version of The Last of Us for PS4.

Hennig has since joined the team at Visceral Games, and is working on a new Star Wars title.