PS4 studio Naughty Dog loses another lead developer?

Lead character artist Michael Knowland may have left the company.

It appears Sony's wholly owned studio Naughty Dog, famous for the Jak & Daxter, Uncharted, and The Last of Us franchises, has lost yet another lead developer.

The Last of Us lead character artist Michael Knowland updated his LinkedIn page (spotted by Superannuation) to say his tenure at Naughty Dog ended, or will end, sometime in April 2014. It's unclear if Knowland has actually left Naughty Dog, and we've reached out to a representative for the company for more information.

This news comes after recent departures of a handful of high-ranking Naughty Dog employees, including Uncharted 4 director Justin Richmond, writer Amy Hennig, lead artist Nate Wells, and actor Todd Stashwick.

Of course, it's not out of the ordinary for developers to leave their job for a new opportunity, but the sheer number of employees who have left Naughty Dog in recent days is certainly something to take note of. For more on the changes at Naughty Dog and other first-party Sony studios, be sure to read GameSpot's editorial on what the turnover might mean.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

425 comments
kovaras1984
kovaras1984

like god dammed rats fleeing a sinking ship, i guess thats what happens when a company has to sell off its HQ to pay its employees

3dmatrixgamer
3dmatrixgamer

i guess the ND case inhere is same as forwhat Bungie departed MS. Exclusivity for such an iconic title which ND developed is such a  cancerous. Sony had to allow ND to port UC, TLOU only on PCs not at the same time of PS3 launched but after a while maybe year or two. I dont say Sony allowed them to port it on Xbox or Nintendo as they are rivalry but PC is a different era. I have a PS3 login on my Steam client that's why i insist it. 

psboring
psboring

Aaaaaand another one bites the dust, and another one down, and another one down, another one bites the dust. Hey I'm gonna get you too and another one bites the dust!

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

Great, hopefully that studio can make real video games again.

xxmavr1kxx
xxmavr1kxx

Looks like since the Last Of Us was such a smash hit people are poaching the talent.

robbiejones
robbiejones

peoples contracts come to a close, projects finish and their job is done. No need to stress!

j_kizi
j_kizi

I will use this opportunity to quote from the movie Snatch..... "Now, we are f***ed!"

Ok a bit dramatic but I don't want a crap Uncharted 4 game, and Naughty Dog are one of my favorite developers... (sad face)

Damnation_6
Damnation_6

The company seemed to be doing so well...what the hell is going on? :(

margevich
margevich

I knew from beginning releasing one movie game every 3 years on a single platform is not a good biznaz model

withe1982
withe1982

Yup just another non story. I wonder how many employees ND has working on new games? I'm guessing around 200+. So why is it reported every time someone leaves? I'm pretty sure ND can survive without the 5 or so people who have left. The 195 remaining staff members left are perfectly capable of doing their jobs.


Also majority of the people leaving worked on TLOU which is now 100% finished so obviously they'll be moving on the newer projects. It's just how the industry works.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

I properly crapped myself when I heard this news yesterday, was starting to fear the worst.

But then I realised...

The Last of Us is finished, done. Kaput. The final piece of DLC is coming out next month so there's bound to be some members of staff leaving; the project is done. Lead character artist for the game? The game development is over!

As for the Uncharted team, we already know it's being re-done so it's only natural the old team will have a shift around.

It'd be interesting to hear how many NEW people have been employed for Uncharted 4? But the media won't report on that! There's over 20 jobs listed on the official website as it is!

Either way. Their games are still gona be awesome :)

alaskancrab
alaskancrab

who cares?  Seriously... these reports are even more boring than articles on job postings.   Not an ounce of news to be found in either of them.  The only thing it does is show how lame the writers are for name dropping people NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD OF.  Maybe 20 years ago it would be news but there isn't a single person in the industry at the moment that isn't disposable like yesterday's garbage.

rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

Will Naughty Dog become the next Rare? I hardly think that's possible but if that happens and big games like Uncharted turn out to just be average....that could really turn around the established idea that Sony has better first part games than MS.

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

Probably the real talent under them up and went a long time ago. Once you loose the real talent the husk is all that remains. Easy to discard.

bongsyas_23
bongsyas_23

strange. something crazy must be going on there

tom2750
tom2750

i am pretty sure this guy wasn't working on uncharted 4 anyway he worked on the last of us but i am pretty sure he wasn't working on the new uncharted maybe he was working on another unannounced naughty dog project i could be completely wrong tho 

Fabian85
Fabian85

People must be blind if they think there is no connection between santa monica and drive club studio layoffs and people dropping from ND at about the same time. This has to do with sonys financial shape.

Max23q
Max23q

Still waiting for an Uncharted Karts or UnCarted or something...

HipHopBeats
HipHopBeats

It would be jokes if all the employees who left went on to make crap games.

eternal_napalm
eternal_napalm

Yawn. Developers switch companies fairly often. I'm still waiting on the article about how Guerrilla Games hired a prominent dev for their new unrevealed IP formerly of Obsidian who specializes in open world RPGs. Worked on Fallout: New Vegas as a lead writer. Also just got done working on unreleased Shadow of Mordor. Where is that article at? Huh? Lol. Please, turnover in the game industry is common, devs often move around. It's not like an entire company like Bungie gave someone the finger and went out on their own

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

Hemorrhaging talent, not good for Sony. Probably the thought of making another Uncharted game is no longer appealing.

john1217727
john1217727

Apparently, game site journalists have turned into click bait console war mongering whores - this goes for most of the articles written on this site and other sites regardless of the console, handheld or PC platform they're writing about. It's all about the advertising money man.
 

glacius_x
glacius_x

Tell that to companies that had similar things happen, like Rare. I would say its time to really wonder.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@Damnation_6 Well if Microsoft lined their pockets to move on all on their own accord..... but that is the conspiracy theorist in me....

elaisse2
elaisse2

@withe1982  So they never worked on uncharted??  When key people leave it worries people because that means the same quality you had just left.

Vodoo
Vodoo

It's a little more involved than what you're saying. All the people who left were high level employees that have worked there for years, not your run of the mill programmer.

These types of employees are the foundation of the company. They lead or direct others.

Needless to say, there's something going on there or all these very skilled people wouldn't be leaving.

xxmavr1kxx
xxmavr1kxx

@warhawk-geeby  Just to play devils advocate here: What if those 20 Job Postings are to replace other people who have left? 


It is true though. THe media likes to report on anything negative.For some reason thats what people like to hear/read/watch about. I wonder how different society would be if news outlets only reported more good than bad.

golden_ashen
golden_ashen

@rickphoenixxx  


I think losing 4 people is a long way off from becoming Rare. There are hundreds of staff at ND, all of which are talented.


Rare is filled with people throwing paper balls and every now and again deciding to make a casual game like Kinect sports or some shit.

fede018
fede018

@tom2750 so he was twiddling his thumbs while the rest of ND work on U4?

mr_nee
mr_nee

@tom2750  So tho you're pretty sure twice, you could still be wrong?

Nonstop-Madness
Nonstop-Madness

@Fabian85  This is conjecture at best. Not sure how you can connect people being laid off due to reconstructing vs a new IP being canned vs people leaving for personnel reasons (Col Rodgers at Evolution) vs people being poached (Justin Richmond from ND to Riot). 

X-RS
X-RS

@Fabian85

Any1 else think Sony gonna seperate their developement division with a new company?

Or hat a little TOO conspiracy crazy?

franken_stein
franken_stein

@eternal_napalm  While I agree that devs move around, there is part of the article that says:


""This news comes after recent departures of a handful of high-ranking Naughty Dog employees, including Uncharted 4 director Justin Richmond, writer Amy Hennig, lead artist Nate Wells, and actor Todd Stashwick.

Of course, it's not out of the ordinary for developers to leave their job for a new opportunity, but the sheer number of employees who have left Naughty Dog in recent days is certainly something to take note of."".


A lot of distracting changes overall are taking shape at Sony and their owned studios. That could be a direct result of turbulence caused by poor management and junk credit with no cash and a ledger in the red over a billion dollars. Sony makes a good gaming console for sure but that doesn't mean their invincible and can do no wrong or negative things cant befall them.


eternal_napalm
eternal_napalm

I agree, the devs are probably looking to make something different.

Nonstop-Madness
Nonstop-Madness

@Vodoo  The developer in the story only worked for ND during the production of The Last of Us. Skilled? Yes but it hasn't worked for ND for years. He literally worked on 1 ND project and left. Is that really someone who creates the foundation of the company? No. 

golden_ashen
golden_ashen

@Vodoo  


The same reason high profile people leave my workplace? They've been with us for years, aren't getting any higher and feel that this is the time for a change. 


I think the only reason people are drawing attention to it is because Sony is in a little bit of a financial pickle. Had that not been the case and the same people were leaving, most sites would be ignoring this news.


It's not uncommon either, when PS3 came along, more and bigger people than this left the company overall, did that spell doom for PS3? No, not really. 


Dunno why its any different now :/

Fabian85
Fabian85

People being laid off means sony cutting costs where they feel they can. Ip being canned same thing money saving measure. People dropping from ND like flies sony is on a very tight budget and cant meet expectations and strike lucrative job deals with these people. They have salary talks and probably expect a certain amt of annual increase and bonuses. You think they would say i expected to get paid more and sony couldnt meet my demands to the media?

mr_nee
mr_nee

@franken_stein  that could be many things, but I can tell you one - Sony isn't known for crap exclusives. All of my 360 friends are jelous about games I'm getting since I got PS3 (I got it very late).

Maybe they have very high internal standarts and are canning all the "talent" that don't deliver to these standards

rickphoenixxx
rickphoenixxx

@nuckaface123 @golden_ashen@rickphoenixxxWell 343 did a good job with the campaign in Halo 4, it was the multi that sucked alot compared to previous ones. Not big into GOW but the last one was kinda average.

X-RS
X-RS

@mr_nee

Well, sounded before there was a suggestion of seperating the Playstation Brand (sorry no link) because of their performance. However maybe even another brand would be better suited for the future and possibly other platforms.

I guess I want to hear theres a nice big surprise =\  Personally really hyped for what the PS4 could do for gaming right now