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Perfect Dark studio The Initiative hit with a wave of 'fast and furious' resignations

The resignation timeline coincides with when Crystal Dynamics announced its involvement in co-developing the Perfect Dark reboot with The Initiative.

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The Initiative has seen a wave of employee resignations over the last 12 months, with VGC reporting that as many as “half the core development team” working on the Perfect Dark reboot have left. These resignations include a number of senior staff members like game director Dan Neuburger, design director Drew Murray, principal world builder Jolyon Myers, and lead level designer Chris O’Neill.

Additionally, three former God of War designers, two senior system designers, and two senior writers have called it quits alongside other members of the Perfect Dark reboot team including the game’s technical director, tech art director, lead gameplay designer, lead animator, and QA lead.

According to VGC, the number of departures sits at a staggering 34 people over the last 12 months. Adding fuel to the speculative fire, the bulk of staff departures appear to have taken place ahead of Crystal Dynamics being tapped to co-develop the Perfect Dark reboot with The Initiative back in September 2021. This suggests Crystal Dynamics could have been brought in to work on Perfect Dark as a way to help fill in the gaps left behind by the mass exodus of employees from The Initiative. 

Speaking with VGC, several former senior developers pointed to a “lack of creative autonomy and slow development progress” to be among the reasons why staff members have quit. Not only this, but the resignations at The Initiative have been described as “fast and furious” to the point where project momentum has been “heavily affected” as a result.

This certainly doesn’t bode well for the Perfect Dark reboot, though studio head Darrell Gallagher told VGC they’re confident in the team that’s currently in place, with the COVID-19 pandemic being a suggested reason for staffing changes at The Initiative.

Employees painted a distinctly different picture of the situation when talking to VGC, suggesting that senior staff members have left due to frustration over the direction set for the Perfect Dark reboot by the likes of game director Daniel Neuburger, who resigned from The Initiative last month, and Gallagher himself.

Former staff members also describe a perceived “lack of autonomy” and feeling like their voices weren’t being heard on key issues including project planning and team staffing. In the disarray, it’s also suggested that progress on the Perfect Dark reboot has been “painfully slow” with employees telling VGC they’ve been surprised at “how lenient Microsoft had been over the lack of progress.”

Former employees also claim the decision to co-develop with Crystal Dynamics was a move made by Gallagher and Neuburger in the hopes that production would “move more smoothly.”

Regardless of the reasons behind the wave of employee resignations at The Initiative, it's evident there are issues and concerns with the project that management needs to take a good, hard look at. 

With that being said, we’re also curious about your thoughts on the matter. Do you think the situation is one that can be resolved over time or does this spell real trouble for the Perfect Dark reboot? 

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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