The upcoming Perfect Dark reboot, first revealed during The Game Awards in 2020, is reportedly still several years away from being ready, due to a combination of clashing development visions, unclear direction, and studio tension.
These allegations have arisen from a new IGN report detailing the development cycle of the first-person shooter to date, with a multitude of complex challenges facing developer, The Initiative. Per IGN, the game’s troubles began with early clashes between The Initiative and its co-development partner, Certain Affinity.
In the report, it’s alleged that both parties shared competing visions, and that senior developers in duplicate roles ‘often clashed, causing tension on both sides and a general feeling of mistreatment’. Both also shared competing visions, which reportedly led to multiple prototypes of the game being scrapped.
‘It was not that we didn’t know what we wanted, it was that we kept making things that weren’t what we wanted,’ one source from The Initiative told IGN. ‘We’d do it over and over again. The … levels we had when I left weren’t the same ones we’d had three months prior, or three months prior [to that]. I don’t know why people just kept hitting the reset button. That was definitely contributing to that feeling that we weren’t making any progress.’
Perfect Dark eventually hit proof of concept
The team was able to put together a ‘fairly polished’ proof of concept for Perfect Dark a few months after the project was revealed at The Game Awards – following major teething issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and new work-from-home conditions – and this reportedly included ‘a handful of unfinished, prototype levels, a loose narrative, and showcased some basic traversal, gadgets, and combat.’ But still, certain parties were reportedly unhappy.
Eventually, the decision was made not to renew the Perfect Dark co-development contract with Certain Affinity.
This role was eventually filled by Crystal Dynamics, who filled a necessary gap for The Initiative. But this reportedly came with its own challenges, as Crystal Dynamics found the proof of concept was ‘a bit of a mess’ that required far more help than originally assumed. Per sources, this led to the Perfect Dark concept being reworked once again, despite it then being already in development for three years.
Sources report familiar tension cropped up between The Initiative and Crystal Dynamics due to these decisions, with some ‘disagreements and infighting in departments that had established leaders’ resulting. It seems these challenges were eventually resolved, as sources now believe Perfect Dark is progressing steadily under Crystal Dynamics’ leadership.
Per IGN reporting, the game is still in pre-production, and around two to three years away from release. While its vision is much clearer, many questions still linger.
The full IGN report is well worth a read if you’re curious about what happened to the upcoming Perfect Dark reboot, and how challenges in game development impact studios of all experience levels.