The Initiative is partnering with Crystal Dynamics for Perfect Dark development

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In a surprising announcement, The Initiative announced they are partnering with Crystal Dynamics, best known for the rebooted Tomb Raider series, on the upcoming Perfect Dark game.

Little is known about the game other than that it will be first person and incorporate “spy fighting”. The announcement tweet notes that the game is still in the early stages of development.


Hope this leads to an acquisition.

Would like to see a Turn10 and Playground collaboration on other types of AAA projects. Hopefully, between The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics.

Weird partnership but a welcome one. It does make me wonder if Microsoft bit off more than they can chew by building a new studio? Time will tell.

This makes a lot of sense. We knew The Initiative had to heavily rely on other studios when in full production. Their staff consists mostly of leadership positions and a lot of designers. I’m sure they’ve looked around for other options regarding full development, but I can imagine this was the most practical solution. Probably not the cheapest though.

I wonder if The Initiative plans on becoming a larger studio with 200+ employees, or if this is the way they want to create games in the future. A little bit like Kojima Productions.


One thing I’m wondering about since TI wants to stay small, does anyone think they are going to be bringing other 3rd party AAA dev studios for future projects?

Ah didn’t spot this had its own thread, good idea, as I imagine there will be lots of discussion on this.

To repeat my takes from the other two relevant threads:

  1. I think this is a dream opportunity for The Initiative and Xbox. From the outset The Initiative strategy was described as having a ‘small and agile’ team overseeing AAA developments – that would usually mean relying on dozens of little contracts with work-for-hire studios and sole traders. Being able to bag a single, well regarded developer with AAA credentials is an extraordinary coup, and bodes well for a stable and well organised development. The fact that its the studio head Darrel Gallagher’s old team promises an even smoother ride to launch.

  2. From SE point of view, the deal is likely a god send as well. They planned for CD to be working on their massively successful GAAS The Averngers for years to come … and … yeah. They’ll be delighted they can transition the studio into new paid work.

  3. The obvious implication (obviously contingent on the relationship working well and both sides being open to it) is to transition into an acquisition of CD from SE to MS. This would transition The Initiative from a small team that hires in developers into a fully self contained AAA developer very neatly. The Crystal Initiative.


Crystal Dynamics started as a support studio then it starting making its own games and now its back to support studio position .

Square One GIF by ALLBLK (formerly known as UMC)

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I think this annoucement means that perfect dark has either recently, or is just about to, entered full production.


Back in 2019, The Initiative said they were going to stay small and agile. This was before and after hiring a lot of well-established, accomplished senior-level creatives from top studios in the industry. Microsoft has hired many devs since 2019. Playground’s 2nd team has grown tremendously and has a ton of job openings. While most of Microsoft’s studios grew, The Initiative slowed down their hiring rather quickly.

Early on Gallagher said they were going to be innovative and do something different. Back then I speculated they might be the Western equivalent of Mistwalker who made two AAA 360 games within a short time frame despite having a relatively small studio. This only lends credence to my initial theory. The Initiative will do the game design, writing, art…basically all the creative elements. When it’s time for full production, it will be sent out.

For CD, this may make sense if they’re in the pre-production phase for the next Tomb Raider. If they don’t have two full AAA projects in development at the same time, then they have a lot of resources idle. Square likely gets a lot of money from Microsoft for a team that just came off a financial disappointment. That said, it’s hard to imagine Tomb Raider going into full prod with a huge chunk of their staff working on Perfect Dark. Makes me think PD might go into full prod soon so they can finish before they’re needed on Tomb Raider.

Contract work and outsourcing is common in AAA development. Even more prevalent in Cali. Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, and Obsidian are all using or recently used a high number of contractors. In this case, Microsoft seems to have bagged one of the most established studios to do support work.

AAA games are hard for established studios regardless of talent. A new studio with a new IP getting support from a familiar studio with a good technical track record actually bodes well for the project.


Completely agree that when the studio was announced, it did sound like TI would be laying the groundwork and what the game is exactly, but a lot of the actual building of the game will mostly be done by other studios ala Lost Odyssey.

I said it in the other thread that this is actually pretty mundane news and is only interesting because of the calibre of who TI has partnered with. To be honest the people who are ‘concerned’ should be asking more questions why a studio like CD is doing work on another publisher’s game rather than trying to imply that Perfect Dark is in some sort of development hell.


OBM - you clearly are not reading what twitter is telling me. I should be concerned.

LOL :rofl:


Of course you should be concerned. You’re reading Twitter. It’s bad for mental health. Not that I can judge. I indulge too.


You and Sik and al large portion of the xboxera crew have very level headed takes especially when the world wants to meltdown at a moment’s notice in the last two weeks: Especially the world of xbox influencers.

There is insecurity in their world it seems, especially people touting that they don’t do fanboi talk.


I should have known better but this news is supposed to excite people and instead it made people ‘worried’ :sweat_smile:.


After catching up with some the news and opinions from the last 14 hours, or so. I’m realizing that all these times over the years that I started up a new game for the first time and saw multipe dev studios flash across my screen…I should have been VERY VERY concerned

Eh, ya live and you learn

Or you realize some people live and manage to not learn a fucking thing


On a serious note, game development is hard. AAA game development is hard. New IPs are harder. New AAA IPs that are supposed to have substantial campaign and multiplayer is hardest.

Starting a new studio is hard. Trying to put together a cohesive new studio through a pandemic is harder.

This project will be very challenging. Having an established AAA studio who you have familiarity with in your backyard who rebooted another classic IP adds stability. They couldn’t have landed a better support studio situation to come in before full production.

If this seems weird, it is. You don’t get established AAA studios to do your support work. Guess that’s what happens when Microsoft is “all in” and opens up the coffers. The irony is if Microsoft just hired 5 lessor known support studios, nobody would’ve batted an eye…even though it would’ve been less optimal in every other way.


I genuinely believe people are under the impression that development basically only happens under one development studio for these big AAA games and not spread out over multiple studios.


Information is king.

Observed rule of data:

  1. The people who worry have either little/no information - which seems to be the case here, or
  2. excess information on the other end of the spectrum - which seems to be no one right now.

I’m smelling a new OBM article/youtube video


This barrage of logic is hard to take in. lol

Jokes aside - Well said.

I keep coming back to Satya’s statement on studios - building studios is hard, buying established studios is a very good way to expand quickly.

There are two points on that statement - this is a fact, and they have completely internalized the expected effort of building a game and many high quality games in a given time period.

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