Perfect Dark is one of those video game franchises that never quite found its footing outside of a stellar first entry. Microsoft announced back in 2020 that a studio called The Initiative was working on a series reboot, but according to a new report from VGC, the studio is having some pretty serious personnel issues.
The saga began when a ResetEra user noticed that Dan Neuburger, the game director of the reboot, indicated on his LinkedIn profile that he had left the studio. More than a year ago, the game's design director Drew Murray also left The Initiative, opting to join back up with his former studio, Spider-Man developer, Insomniac Games.
Per this new report, it seems that these departures were just the tip of the iceberg. Sources tell VGC that a whole host of key creative staff have left the company, including two of its writers, its technical director, lead gameplay engineer, QA lead, and many more. Altogether, VGC estimates that the studio now consists of less than 50 people, which is quite small for a purported "quadruple-A" (their term, not ours) developer.
To be fair to this new Perfect Dark, it's not just The Initiative's baby — Microsoft announced last September that Tomb Raider developer, Crystal Dynamics, would co-develop the project. In fact, VGC's reporting seems to indicate that these departures began around the same time as the announcement. Coincidence? You decide, dear reader!
Studio head Darrell Gallagher told VGC that the "staffing changes" were due primarily to the global pandemic. He also said he was confident in the new talent joining the team.
The last entry in the series was Perfect Dark Zero, a 2005 Xbox 360 launch title that's usually remembered as a fairly middle-of-the-road shooter — if it's remembered at all, that is. We here at Input have no idea what a successful new Perfect Dark game might look like, but if it doesn't have the laptop gun, you know that they messed up.