The Initiative says Crystal Dynamics will still co-develop Perfect Dark following Embracer’s acquisition
“We will be continuing this work with them in their next chapter”
Xbox studio The Initiative has stated that it will continue to co-develop Perfect Dark following news that Embracer Group is acquiring Crystal Dynamics.
Embracer has agreed to acquire Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, Square Enix Montreal and a catalogue of IPs including Tomb Raider for $300 million.
The acquisition announcement did not, however, mention what would be happening with Crystal Dynamics’ commitment to help with development on Xbox’s Perfect Dark reboot.
According to a new tweet by The Initiative, however, it appears that Crystal Dynamics will continue to work on the game following the acquisition.
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Retweeting a statement from Crystal Dynamics which referred to the acquisition as “a new chapter in our story”, The Initiative confirmed its plans.
“We’re excited to see Crystal Dynamics take these next steps with their studio,” it said. “Our teams have made great progress in building Perfect Dark together as co-development partners, and we will be continuing this work with them in their next chapter.”
Xbox signed up Marvel’s Avengers and Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics in September 2021 to help develop its Perfect Dark reboot.
At the time, The Initiative tweeted: “Perfect Dark update! We are partnering with Crystal Dynamics, the world-class team behind character-driven games such as Tomb Raider, to bring this first-person spy thriller to a new generation.”
However, VGC reported in March that The Initiative has seen a “fast and furious” wave of senior departures in the past 12 months.
As much as half of the core development team known to be working on the upcoming Perfect Dark reboot quit the company during the last year.
That includes most of The Initiative’s senior design team, including game director Dan Neuburger, design director Drew Murray, lead level designer Chris O’Neill, principal world builder Jolyon Myers, two senior system designers, a group of three former God of War designers and more.
Perfect Dark’s two most senior writers also recently quit, analysis shows, along with the project’s technical director, tech art director, lead gameplay engineer, lead animator, QA lead and more.
The timing of the departures coincides with the September 2021 announcement that Crystal Dynamics had been signed to co-develop Perfect Dark.
This, combined with the few job roles currently advertised at The Initiative, suggests that the Tomb Raider developer is likely taking a much stronger lead than first thought on the project.
Interviews with multiple former senior developers cited a lack of creative autonomy and slow development progress as the reason for their departures, and described the wave of exits as “fast and furious” with project momentum said to be “heavily affected”.
The Initiative’s management told VGC it’s confident in the team it has in place, and new talent joining, and pointed to industry-wide staffing challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s no small task to build a studio and reinvent a beloved franchise,” studio head Darrell Gallagher told 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.”