Perfect Dark: other dropouts, is development no longer in the hands of The Initiative?

Perfect Dark: other dropouts, is development no longer in the hands of The Initiative?

Perfect Dark

Over the last few days we have already talked about the situation that is emerging in one of the most talked about studios of the Xbox Game Studios. Let's talk about The Initiative, a very young team that is making the Perfect Dark reboot. According to a report published by the VGC editorial team, it was underlined that the team has lost almost half of its employees over the past few months. To date, however, another detail arrives that resizes what until recently was defined as one of the most important and talented teams of Xbox.

The situation seems to be much more complex of how it was told by VGC a few days ago, and to give further possible details on the development of Perfect Dark was the same author of the report Andy Robinson. The editorial editor, in fact, recently published a new post on his Twitter profile, in which he added a few more lines on the updated situation within The Initiative.

Initiative update: I've added 2 more confirmed departures to the list (and corroborating a few more).

If it wasn ' t obvious already, multiple sources have now suggested to me that Crystal Dynamics is essentially leading this project.

- Andy Robinson (@AndyPlaytonic) March 16, 2022

As we pointed out in the last update on Perfect Dark, we knew that The Initiative had joined the team of Crystal Dynamics to help in the development, but if the latest rumors are confirmed it seems that the Square-Enix team will take the reins of the project.

Waiting for the first game of The Initiative, you can recover the other Xbox Games Studio exclusives by subscribing to Xbox Game Pass at this address.

‘Perfect Dark’ Development At Xbox’s The Initiative Does Not Seem To Be Going Great

Perfect Dark


While Xbox has had a strong launch to the “Series” generation, including being the highest rated publisher on Metacritic this past year, one of their future projects appears to be undergoing some pretty tremendous growing pains.

In the wake of the recent departure of Perfect Dark game director Dan Neuburger, a new report from VGC today recaps the extremely long list of developers and leaders that have departed purported “AAAA” studio The Initiative, the newly formed developer made up of industry all-stars that Microsoft tasked with the reboot.

Based on LinkedIn job roles, The Initiative appears to be now under 50 people in total, and there are only three open roles listed on its website, with 12 hired over the last year. This does not scream “AAAA studio,” nor does it seem like the type of studio you’d imagine would be able to make an ambitious Perfect Dark title.

This lack of staff would explain why Crystal Dynamics has been brought in from Square Enix to help work on Perfect Dark, with The Initiative led by the former head of that studio, Darrell Gallagher. I’ve previously suggested that Crystal Dynamics could be a prime acquisition by Microsoft as they look to fill this gap, and Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have not seemed to have had the warmest of relationships over the years with the constant referral of their Tomb Raider games and The Avengers initiative as “not meeting expectations.”

VGC’s report contains quotes from current Initiative leadership saying that it’s a pandemic, game development is tough, etc, but former colleagues have expressed frustration about the direction of the project. The claim is that this has made development “painfully slow” and that there’s just not a good company culture there. And with so many departures, there isn’t all that much of a company at all at this point, hence the arrival of Crystal Dynamics.

I highly recommend you check out the full VGC article with ends with a lengthy list of the Perfect Dark development team with all the departures highlighted. It’s…a lot, and the general sense is that this game is likely to continue to undergo overhauls, and that it’s still very, very far away from release, and Microsoft may have to rely on some of its other higher profile projects to perform first, the next one being Bethesda’s Starfield, due out this fall with its extremely confident projected release date. After that, games like Fable and Everwild are still in development and also far away, though we haven’t heard as much drama about their development to date, like what we’re seeing here with whatever’s going on in The Initiative.

We’ll see if Microsoft has anything to say past studio head Darrell Gallagher’s statement to VGC:

“It’s no small task to build a studio and reinvent a beloved franchise. In creating The Initiative, we set out to leverage co-development partnerships to achieve our ambitions, and we’re really excited about all the progress we’re seeing with our relationship with Crystal Dynamics.

“In this journey, it’s not uncommon for there to be staffing changes, especially during a time of global upheaval over the last two years, and there’s plenty more work in front of us to deliver a fantastic Perfect Dark experience to our players.

“We wish all our former colleagues the very best, and I’m confident in the team we have in place, the new talent joining, and we can’t wait to share more with the fans.”

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.