Perfect Dark reportedly "years" from launch after a development reboot in 2022

Perfect Dark reboot
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

A new report suggests that Xbox's long-awaited Perfect Dark revival is still at least two to three years away from launch following a series of development struggles that included a reboot on the game's production in 2022.

The IGN report, citing 13 sources familiar with Perfect Dark's development, says that "little meaningful progress has been made" on the project since the CG trailer that announced it in 2020. There's no real smoking gun on what's been going wrong - there have apparently been a variety of issues, ranging from struggles in making co-development work to a number of high-profile departures from lead studio The Initiative.

For most readers, the key detail is that the game is now "in the earliest stages" of development, as IGN says that in 2022, "Perfect Dark was essentially started over from scratch in Unreal 5." That comes after The Initiative's publicly announced partnership with Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics, and development has reportedly been progressing more smoothly since the reboot. The report notes that several sources say they "would consider Perfect Dark to be more of a Crystal Dynamics game than one by The Initiative."

The Initiative was always a smaller studio stacked with AAA talent, and prior to the Crystal Dynamics partnership, had been working with co-developer Certain Affinity, a contract studio that aided the development of numerous Halo and Call of Duty games. The report suggests that a lack of a clear vision for the game led to struggles in the co-development process, and while a proof-of-concept version of the game was built, shortly after The Initiative parted ways with Certain Affinity.

With regards to the co-development issues, Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty told IGN: "Is it perhaps a little different than what has been done over the last five to ten years? Sure. But I think it’s more of the way that we’re going to see things getting built going forward than not. And that’s why, despite all the bumps in the road and the hiccups, we’ve had some people come on board from other very traditional teams that show up and go, 'Wait a minute, this is not how I’m used to working.'" Booty added that the team has now "hit their rhythm" on Perfect Dark.

The full IGN report is worth your time if you want some insight into the process of modern game development, but it'll sound pretty familiar if you've read similar reports in the past. In fact, the report reminded me a great deal of what we saw in the excellent Psychonauts 2 documentary, PsychOdyssey

Again, there aren't really any bombshell revelations regarding what's taken Perfect Dark off-track - just the story of a development team that's struggled to figure out what shape the game should take. Here's hoping that this story reaches a happy conclusion for the devs and fans alike.

The new Perfect Dark was one of the biggest MIA games of E3 2023. 

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.