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Microsoft’s Perfect Dark studio has lost numerous key staff over past year

Reportedly due to slow progress and management.

The Initiative, Microsoft’s new game studio set up to reboot Perfect Dark, has seen an exodus of key staff over the last 12 months.

Last weekend, it was spotted that Perfect Dark’s game director Dan Neuburger had left the studio after nearly four years. (Perfect Dark itself is not expected any time soon and lacks any kind of release date.)

Now, LinkedIn investigations have unearthed more than 30 other departures since the start of 2021. This includes the game’s design director, lead level designer, principal level designer and principal world builder, lead systems designer, technical director, director of narrative and narrative lead, VGC spotted.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the list of departures has reportedly affected project momentum, staff said. Reasons for departures include the project’s already-slow progress and lack of creative freedom under the studio’s bosses.

“It’s no small task to build a studio and reinvent a beloved franchise,” The Initiative boss Darrell Gallagher said in a statement 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.

“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.”

Many of the studio’s departures occurred last summer, which sheds new light on Microsoft’s late September announcement it had roped in Tomb Raider and Marvel’s Avengers studio Crystal Dynamics to aid with development.

That studio, part of Square Enix, was the previous home of Gallagher – and also Neuburger, whose next role remains uncertain.

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