The highly-anticipated Perfect Dark reboot at Xbox studio The Initiative may be in a bit of trouble.
According to a troubling new report from VGC, extraordinarily high staff turnover has become a problem at The Initiative. According to VGC, as many as half of the studio’s core development team have left the company. Among those now departed are design team leads like game director Dan Neuburger and design director Drew Murray. Principal world builder Jolyon Myers is out too. Another three designers that previously worked on God of War have also left the team.
VGC also notes that the timing of these departures coincides with a significant internal change. Most of the names above departed around the time Tomb Raider studio Crystal Dynamics came on board to co-develop the title.
Why are people leaving?
Sources VGC spoke to pointed to frustrations with the project’s direction as the exodus’ primary motivator. Though The Initiative describes itself as a “collaborative” environment, sources told VGC they felt it was quite “top-down”. The primary complaint was that team leads kept the studio on a creatively short leash. The sum of the studio’s issues meant that development on Perfect Dark is moving at a “painfully” slow pace. Microsoft’s apparent willingness to overlook the glacial pace of development came as a surprise to many of the former developers, but it would also explain bringing Crystal Dynamics into the fold. Someone upstairs has ordered The Initiative to get a wriggle on.
The Perfect Dark series began life on the Nintendo 64. Developed by Rare, the game was a spiritual successor to the studio’s smash hit GoldenEye 007. Rare returned to the franchise only once with Perfect Dark Zero, an Xbox 360 launch title that failed to reach the dizzying heights of the original. The series has, nevertheless, retained a legendary status in the games industry since. Rare, now also owned by Xbox, is curiously unconnected to the Perfect Dark reboot. It is currently developing a fantasy multiplayer game Everwild and maintains a steady update schedule on its multiplayer pirate title Sea of Thieves.