VGC has reported that as much as half of the core development team working on the upcoming Perfect Dark reboot have quit the company during the last year. This includes most of The Initiative’s senior design team, including Game Director Dan Neuburger, Design Director Drew Murray, Lead Level Designer Chris O’Neill, Principal World Builder Jolyon Myers, two Senior System Designers, three former God of War designers, two Senior Writers, the Technical Director, Tech Art Director, Lead Gameplay Engineer, Lead Animator, the QA lead, and more. Multiple former senior developers said that a lack of creative autonomy and slow development progress were the reasons for their departure. They also said that development on Perfect Dark has stalled due to the departures.
The Initiative was formed back in 2018. According to the official website, The Initiative promotes a “collaborative” creative environment but former developers describe the hierarchy as very ‘top-down.’ One developer said, “making games is hard enough, let alone when you feel like you can’t get through to people making the decisions that affect everyone.” Many senior team members didn’t feel heard on key issues such as development priorities, project planning, and team staffing.
Perfect Dark update! We are partnering with Crystal Dynamics, the world class team behind character-driven games such as Tomb Raider, to bring this first-person spy thriller to a new generation. pic.twitter.com/EiqjU99wMa
— TheInitiative (@TheInitiative) September 24, 2021
It’s claimed that a company culture never formed. During The Game Awards 2020, the team’s first project was revealed to be a Perfect Dark reboot. Then, last year, it was revealed that The Initiative is partnering with Crystal Dynamics to work on creating the game. It’s claimed that the culture issue was one of the reasons that Crystal Dynamics was brought onboard as Studio Head Darrell Gallagher and Game Director Daniel Neuburger hoped that production would move more smoothly with the introduction of a second team.
Sources say that they would be surprised if the introduction of Crystal Dynamics and the staff turnover hadn’t triggered an effective soft reboot of Perfect Dark as they say it will likely still be years away from release.
Studio Head Darrell Gallager said, “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.”