Though we’ve seen practically nothing of the Perfect Dark reboot since its announcement in late 2020, its developer The Initiative has seemingly been plugging away at its development behind-the-scenes, but while many may have optimistically assumed that things are moving along well for the project, it seems that might not quite be the case.
As per a report recently published by VGC, The Initiative has seen something of an exodus of talent over the last couple of years. Over the years, we’ve heard about a couple of high profile departures from the studio, including Perfect Dark’s design director Drew Murray and game director Dan Neuburger, though as per VGC, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As per the report, “as much as half” of the game’s core development team has left, including lead level designer Chris O’Neill, principal world builder Jolyon Myers, two senior system designers, three game designers, the technical director, the tech art director, the lead animator, the lead gameplay engineer, the QA lead, and the two most senior writers at the studio.
The Initiative now reportedly employs lass than 50 people, with around 34 people having departed from the studio over the last 12 months, as opposed to just 12 being brought on. As per interviews with former senior members of the team, there was a lack of creative autonomy at the studio, with studio head Darrell Gallagher and the aforementioned game director Dan Neuburger (who has also left the studio) exerting strong creative control over the project.
Meanwhile, the project was also moving along slower than expected, with one former developer describing it as “painfully” slow, and that a proper studio culture at The Initiative hasn’t properly formed, with the exception of the fact that Neuburger and Gallagher have attempted to maintain the sort of tight creative control as they previously did together at Crystal Dynamics.
Microsoft has also supposedly been surprisingly lenient regarding the lack of progress The Initiative has made, with one source saying, “Making games is hard enough, let alone when you feel like you can’t get through to people making the decisions that affect everyone.”
The resulting wave of departures has allegedly “heavily affected” Perfect Dark’s development, the report claims. Last September, it was announced that Crystal Dynamics had signed into a partnership agreement with The Initiative to aid with the development of the game, though the studio is now expected to take on a much larger role than initially anticipated, and will help “plug the gaps” left behind by the wave of departures at The Initiative.
Regarding this report, The Initiative’s aforementioned studio head, Darrell Gallagher says: “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.”
Previous reports have claimed that Perfect Dark was initially targeting a 2023 launch at the earliest, though it remains to be seen how plans for its launch have been affected by what’s been going on behind-the-scenes.