Perfect Dark Reboot Studio Reportedly Sees Staff Departures Due to ‘Slow Development Progress’
A new report suggests that Microsoft The Initiative,
The studio developing the Perfect Dark reboot has suffered significant layoffs over the past 12 months. Employees are apparently leaving the company due to a “lack of creative autonomy and slow development progress.”
Report from VGK Compiled from interviews with unnamed former employees of the Initiative and an analysis of the studio’s structure. It notes that about 34 people have quit in the past year, including most of the senior design team. Game director Dan Neuburger appears to have left the team this year. And earlier departed were design director Drew Murray. Lead level designer Chris O’Neill, lead world builder Jolyon Myers, and several others from the core team. In addition, VGC notes that two senior writers have recently left. As well as a technical director, a technical art director, a lead gameplay engineer, a lead animator, a lead quality assurance specialist, and others.
VGC interviews with former employees of the Initiative show that layoffs occurred “quickly and furiously”, which affected the pace of the project.
Reasons for employees to leave mainly include the feeling that the studio is not a collaborative space. It appears to have been a top-down hierarchy, with Neuburger and studio head Darrell Gallagher largely dictating creative decisions. The staff seemed to feel that they were not listening to their seniors on issues such as development priorities, project planning, and team building. The intended result of this was a project that progressed “painfully” slowly and with no corporate culture. “Making games is hard enough, not to mention you feel like you can’t reach out to the people who make decisions that affect everyone,” one source said.
VGC sources claim
That the culture issue was one of the reasons why Crystal Dynamics was brought in as a co-writer studio. Gallagher and Neuburger had previously been studio head and game director respectively at Crystal Dynamics, and it was hoped that a team familiar with their management practices would work well with them.
In a statement to VGC, Gallagher (who remains head of the studio at The Initiative) said:
“There are frequent personnel changes on this journey, especially during the global turmoil of the last two years, and there is a lot more work to be done to provide our players with a fantastic experience. Perfect dark. “We wish all of our former colleagues the best and I’m confident in our team, adding new talent, and we can’t wait to share more with the fans.” The report’s sources suggest that the big staff changes and the inclusion of Crystal Dynamics may well have prompted Perfect Dark’s internal soft reboot and that it could still be years before a final release.
Matt Purslow is a British news and entertainment columnist for IGN.