At the 2020 Game Awards, it was announced that The Initiative, a new studio founded in 2018, was working on a reboot of the classic Rare property Perfect Dark. The studio is headed by Darrell Gallagher, former head of Square Enix's Crystal Dynamics, and the Perfect Dark reboot was to be directed by Daniel Neuburger, who had helped direct the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013, along with Rise of the Tomb Raider, for Crystal Dynamics. News has been quiet on the game since then, except for an announcement in September that Crystal Dynamics would be assisting the production.
However, in the last week, people have noticed that a large number of staff have left the studio recently. A user on ResetEra noticed that, according to his LinkedIn, Neuburger had left the studio after three years and eight months. Following up on this, VGC investigated the LinkedIn profiles of others associated with the studio, and found that 34 people had quit the studio in the last year, which is about half of the team known to be working on the Perfect Dark reboot. This includes, in addition to the game director, the design director, lead level designer, principal world builder, technical director, tech art director, lead gameplay engineer, lead animator, QA lead, two senior system designers, two senior writers, and more. Many of these departures reportedly align with the announcement of Crystal Dynamics coming on as co-developer.
VGC spoke to several former senior staff members who blamed the departures on a lack of creative freedom and slow progress, and said they believe the project's momentum to be "heavily affected" at this point. Several of VGC's sources agreed that the game has likely had a "soft reboot" and is still several years away from release.
In a statement to VGC, The Initiative head Darrell Gallagher expressed confidence in his team, and pointed to industry-wide staffing issues during the pandemic.
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.