Finally, it’s not just the Perfect Dark game director who left the studio. Over the past 12 months, The Initiative has seen half of its staff go.
Is the departure of the Perfect Dark game director the tip of the iceberg? Yes, according to our colleagues from VGC which yield a massive exodus of developers within the studio The Initiative. Abandonments of positions would explain why the collaboration with Crystal Dynamics has been put forward so much. This would also be the trigger for this talent drain.
From developers to absent subscribers
In a long article, VGC reveals that the departures of Drew Murray and Dan Neuburger are not isolated cases. Within a year, The Initiative, therefore, lost half of its developers, or 34 people, in all areas.
Indeed, journalist Andy Robinson specifies that Jolyon Myers, in charge of the world of Perfect Dark, two system designers, and three former SIE Santa Monica Studio (God of War), have packed up. In addition, the main writers have also quit, as well as the technical director, the artistic director, the person responsible for quality assurance, etc. The list is as long as your arm and can be consulted directly on VGC. Currently, the team would not exceed 50 employees.
According to developers who agreed to testify, this new Perfect Dark is unsurprisingly strongly affected. And if many of them have thrown in the towel, it is obviously because of the way the project was managed by Darrell Gallagher (head of the studio) and Dan Neuburger (the former game director). Despite the talk of the studio, some elements blame a lack of autonomy, creative freedom, and other things related to development priorities. But they also mention the fact of not being able to communicate easily with management, and therefore of not being heard.
Making games is hard enough, let alone feeling like you can’t talk to the people who make decisions that affect everyone else.
Therefore, it appears that the design of this Perfect Dark has stalled and the developers are surprised that Microsoft did not react more than that.
Perfect Dark: A Crystal Dynamics Game (Tomb Raider)
If the article is to be believed, the main reason for the departures relates to the past partnership with Crystal Dynamics. For the witnesses, this collaboration will surely make it possible to straighten the bar on one side. But this introduction of another team, combined with departures, could lead to a reboot and therefore to a very distant release.
Internally, Gallagher tries to reassure:
In this adventure, it is not uncommon for there to be personnel changes, especially with the global crisis of the last two years, and we still have a lot of work ahead of us to deliver a fantastic Perfect Dark experience to our players. We wish the best to all our former colleagues, and I have confidence in the current team, the new ones joining us, and we look forward to sharing more details with fans.
Apparently, Microsoft is giving time to its new structures. But what we see is that there may not be a serious enough framework for projects to move forward at a good pace and in the right direction. Because casually, Perfect Dark is not the first game to suffer behind the scenes. This was the case for Sea of Thieves, knowing that the Rare studio is still experiencing problems with their next license: Everwild. Ditto for Halo Infinite, which after a very complicated public presentation, had to be postponed for a year to limit the damage. Unfortunately, the latter still had to be cut into pieces, with a co-op mode once again delayed.
After reading this VGC survey, are you pessimistic about the project? Do you think that with the support of Crystal Dynamics, The Initiative will manage to offer a bright future to Joanna Dark? Tell us everything in the comments.