Perfect Dark

The Initiative Is Having Trouble Retaining Developers

Last year was one of the strongest and most impressive years Xbox has had thanks to critical darlings Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite. Paired with some highly influential acquisitions, it seems like Microsoft is set when it comes to developers and with studios like The Initiative, the future is exciting.

Per VGC, following Perfect Dark’s game director Dan Neuburger leaving the studio, more developers have departed the studio.

There have been several high-level departures, coinciding with the news that Crystal Dynamics would be brought on to assist in development — this now points it the external studio to be much more involved than anyone previously thought to be.

“It’s no small task to build a studio and reinvent a beloved franchise,” studio head Darrell Gallagher tells VGC. “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.”

From the sounds of it, while the team may be pointing to the pandemic as the biggest factor in these departures, it also looks like there’s a lack of direction with the project and progress is minimal. Former employees also paint a picture where creative autonomy is lacking and with the executives controlling much of the creative freedom promised.

Microsoft has hit these hurdles before and may need to step in to assist if this continues, with Bethesda’s Starfield aiming to launch this year and Fable and Everwild nowhere to be seen, the publisher will need to retool its content schedule to make up for the large gaps they have. Especially with similar instances occurring at other studios with Microsoft Game Studios.