Reporting from VGC and analysis of LinkedIn profiles indicate that several other developers at The Initiative have left the company since 2021. That is notable since Crystal Dynamics was announced as the co-developer for Perfect Dark in September 2021.
Drew Murray was with The Initiative from November 2018 through February 2021, most recently as a Design Director for Perfect Dark. He left the company to return to Insomniac Games, where he worked from 2005 through 2015. After two years, Chris O’Neill, Design Director for Perfect Dark, left The Initiative to join Riot in December 2021. He held that title for only a month.
The VGC reports several other departures from the company and a staff of under 50 people for The Initiative. As we indicated yesterday, their careers page didn’t list any opening for a Game Director. It doesn’t list a job opening for much of anything.
Xbox insider Klobrille, who noticed Neuburger’s departure initially, speculated that Crystal Dynamics is taking on most of the development for Perfect Dark. As we mentioned yesterday, the Initiative focused more on planning, conceptual phases, and pre-production.
Of course, this is all speculation, but when it comes to all things Xbox, Klobrille is in the know.
What would cause these depatures from The Initiative? VGC spoke with people at the developer, including studio founder Darrell Gallagher. They were told that “a lack of creative autonomy and slow development progress as the reason for their departures.” Staff leaving came in “fast and furious,” heavily affecting development.
“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,” Gallagher said to VGC. “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.”
Remember when I mentioned that we wouldn’t see Perfect Dark until 2023 at the earliest? I may have been optimistic about that one. When the partnership between The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics was announced, Jeff Grubb mentioned that Microsoft was still tracking the game for a 2023 release. It’s unknown how all of these departures will affect that, however.
It sounds like we’ll see it when it’s ready.