After 15 years of working at Naughty Dog, 12 of which were served as the studio's Co-President, Christophe Balestra has announced his departure from the company. In a new message over at Naughty Dog's blog, Balestra stated that he intends to pursue a number of "personal ambitions and projects" as well as spending more time with his family, and that his last day at the Uncharted and Last of Us studio will be on April 3.
"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). "
Having initially joined Naughty Dog in 2002 as a programmer, Balestra worked on the now-dormant series Jak and Dexter before being promoted to Co-President with Evan Wells in 2005. With the PlayStation 3 launch coinciding with Balestra's promotion, it was during this period where the soon-to-be-former Co-President helped the studio usher in a new game engine and an entirely new IP, the massively popular Uncharted franchise.
Though it remains to be seen whether a new Co-President will be found or a management shuffle will be occur, Wells will remain at Naughty Dog and Balestra paid tribute to his fellow Co-President by declaring Wells as "the perfect partner" and that he couldn't "imagine achieving the success [Naughty Dog have] had without him."
Come April 3, Balestra will leave behind an enviable decade-long legacy at Naughty Dog that few can match. In addition to his work on Jak and Dexter, as well as his role in bringing the hugely-successful Uncharted franchise to life, Balestra was also part of the team that helped introduce the critically-acclaimed The Last of Us to gamers everywhere.
While Balestra may be heading off to pursue some currently-unknown projects, he's left Naughty Dog in good shape for the foreseeable future. The studio are currently hard at work on the upcoming Uncharted spin-off, The Lost Legacy, which is scheduled for launch at some point in 2017 and is already looking like a worthy addition to the franchise. Beyond Uncharted, Naughty Dog are also working on various other projects, such as the highly-anticipated The Last of Us 2, as well as a number of unannounced games.
It remains to be seen what new projects are in store for Balestra, but given how big Naughty Dog has grown during his tenure and the legacy he's left behind at the company, there's no doubt that fans will be eagerly awaiting whatever he is working on next.
Source: Naughty Dog