Rumblings are emerging of a wave of departures at the Perfect Dark reboot studio The Initiative over the past year.
The report comes from Video Games Chronicle, a day removed from reports on game director Dan Neuburger’s departure last month. According to them, a number of employees have updated their LinkedIn profiles to say they’re no longer with the company. So many have left, in fact, that apparently the studio’s headcount now stands at less than 50 employees.
As well as Neuburger and design director Drew Murray, VGC name several other major departures over the last few months. They include the game’s lead level designer Chris O’Neill and world builder Joylon Myers among others. They also include, it’s claimed, three of the four God of War designers who were brought on in 2019. The game’s two most senior writers and a bunch of technical leads have also apparently left the company.
The report cites some of those departed as claiming frustrations with development direction were among the key causes. This seemed to cause friction between the development teams, studio head Darrell Gallagher and departing director Dan Neuberger. According to one employee spoken to by VGC: “Making games is hard enough, let alone when you feel like you can’t get through to people making the decisions that affect everyone.” It’s believed this, in part, eventually led to Crystal Dynamics being brought onto the project in September last year.
Gallagher spoke to VGC on the wave of departures. “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,” he said. “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.”
VGC closed their extensive report by saying their sources implied that the upheaval may have even triggered “an effective soft reboot” of Perfect Dark under the Crystal Dynamics collaboration. It could be a while, therefore, before we hear more. For now, it looks like we’ll have to wait and see.