In a statement posted to the company’s official website, Naughty Dog co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra addressed claims that The Last of Us’ directors forced Amy Hennig out of the studio.
When IGN first broke the news that Amy Hennig had left Naughty Dog, they cited sources claiming that The Last of Us creative director Neil Druckmann and game director Bruce Straley had “forced out” the Uncharted lead writer and director. According to Wells and Balestra, however, IGN “misreported”—though, as you’ll find below, they offer no alternative explanation.
“Earlier this week we had to confirm the regrettable news that Amy Hennig has left Naughty Dog. She will be missed and, as we stated before, we appreciate the significant contributions that she has made to Naughty Dog and the industry in general. We wish her the best.
“However, we feel it necessary to clear up a very important point that was unprofessionally misreported when the story broke. Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann were NOT involved in what transpired. It was very upsetting to us that dozens of stories were run, linking back to the same hurtful accusations in the original report. As co-presidents of Naughty Dog, we are responsible for all studio affairs.
“Normally, we wouldn’t respond to rumors and speculation on matters that are internal to Naughty Dog, but because the personal reputation of two of our employees is being damaged we needed to set the record straight. There is nothing left to be said on this subject. Now we’re going back to what we should be focused on – making games.”
This remains, however, a one-sided claim. Hennig has yet to comment on her departure in any capacity, and has not herself clarified whether Straley and Druckmann had a hand in her recent, mysterious, unprompted departure. In the absence of that, this open letter strikes me as an attempt—and an understandable one, at that—to save face and prevent negative opinion from forming about two of Naughty’s Dog’s heavy hitters.
EGM will continue to monitor this bizarre situation as it keeps unraveling.