Two More The Last of Us Leads Leave Naughty Dog
The apparent exodus of top-level talent at Naughty Dog is continuing. Having lost the creative head of Uncharted, the game director of Uncharted and the art director of The Last of Us, two more leads from The Last of Us have left Naughty Dog.
The lead game designer and narrative lead for The Last of Us have both left the employ of Sony’s flagship studio and moved onto one of Activision’s premiere studios, Infinity Ward, to start work on 2016’s Call of Duty.
Jacob Minkoff, TLOU’s lead game designer, and Taylor Kurosaki, TLOU’s narrative design lead, both left Naughty Dog last week for work at Infinity Ward. Minkoff joins IW as the studio’s new design director while Kurosaki will be the narrative director. It’s assumed that both will be working on Infinity Ward’s next entry in the Call of Duty franchise which is the first IW CoD game on a three-year development cycle and is due for release in 2016.
Over the last six months, Naughty Dog has lost three other senior staff members. In March, Uncharted series writer and creative director, Amy Hennig, left the company and landed at Visceral Games as a member of their Star Wars project. Justin Richmond, game director of Uncharted 3 and 4, shortly followed Hennig out the door to take up a post at Riot Games. And in April, Nate Wells, TLOU’s art director, left to take up the same post at Giant Sparrow.
While it’s probably not enough that Naughty Dog fans should panic ahead of the release of Uncharted 4, turning over that many senior staff in quick succession is something few organizations can comfortably handle. It’s easy to hire from the bottom and promote up people as they’re ready but that doesn’t mean that those people on track to promote will be ready to promote when they’re needed. That will be key to Naughty Dog continuing to succeed. Of course, Sony would probably let them poach top talent internally if needed too.