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Report: Perfect Dark studio The Initiative sees wave of staff departures

Analysis of LinkedIn suggests around 50% of the studio's core development team has left in the last year

Xbox studio The Initiative has lost approximately half of its main development team, including a handful of senior employees, as per a new report from VGC.

According to information from LinkedIn, around 34 staff members have left the company in the last 12 months, including game director Dan Neuburger, design director Drew Murray, and principal world building Jolyon Myers, among other senior members.

The studio saw multiple exits across other disciplines, with writers, directors, engineers and QA staff also leaving in the last year.

Speaking to VGC, former employees described the departures as "fast and furious," and said that the momentum of ongoing projects was "heavily affected."

Several ex-staff also described The Initiative's hierarchy as a "top down" environment, with studio head Darrell Gallagher and Neuburger controlling a lot of creative decisions.

According to the outlet, staff were "frustrated" and "didn't feel heard" on key issues surrounding development. The team also said it was surprised at Microsoft's leniency towards the studio's lack of progress as a result.

One former employee said: "Making games is hard enough, let alone when you feel like you can't get through to people making the decisions that affect everyone."

Some of the departures took place in September last year, around the time that The Initiative partnered with Crystal Dynamics to create a reboot of Perfect Dark.

"It's no small task to build a studio and reinvent a beloved franchise," said Gallagher, speaking to 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."

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Danielle Partis

News Editor

Danielle is a multi award-winning journalist and editor that joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2021. She previously served as editor at PocketGamer.biz, and is also a co-founder of games outlet Overlode.