Yesterday, in a bit of rather strange, but seemingly good video game news, The Initiative announced that Crystal Dynamics would be pitching in to help work on the upcoming Perfect Dark game for Xbox.
While Crystal Dynamics is a talented studio, credited with bringing Tomb Raider into the modern era and most recently working on Marvel’s Avengers, the partnership is certainly unusual to see.
The Initiative is a first party Microsoft studio that was specifically created to build giant, AAA games like Perfect Dark. Crystal Dynamics is a third party developer owned by Square Enix. This is like Sony Santa Monica announcing they were hiring Eidos Montreal to work on God of War Ragnarok with them. It’s exceedingly unusual to see.
And yet…there are a few points of connection here. Microsoft previously worked with Crystal Dynamics to make Rise of the Tomb Raider a timed exclusive, footing part of the bill for the game. But perhaps most significantly, the head of The Initiative is Darrell Gallagher, who used to be the head of, you guessed it, Crystal Dynamics.
Obviously, with Microsoft in an acquisition-happy mood these days, this will certainly spark talks of “are they going to buy Crystal Dynamics from Square Enix?” There’s nothing to indicate that’s in the cards, and this may just be a contract deal where Crystal Dynamics is temporarily on loan to help with the game. And yet Perfect Dark is still years away, so this is seemingly a pretty long-term project.
Square Enix was publicly disappointed with the sales of Marvel’s Avengers this past year, and had said something similar about past Tomb Raider games. This is more Square Enix setting the bar too high than these games performing badly, as Avengers is actually one of the better-selling games of the year, and new content has been greenlit for 2022 (no word on how this news may affect future Avengers content). But I mean, it’s not completely unthinkable to say that if the price was right, Square Enix might be open to selling Crystal Dynamics to Microsoft.
For now, it’s just this Perfect Dark deal. We have seen quite literally nothing but vague cinematics about the game, which is still early in development as they say, and it’s kind of impossible to know what direction they’re going to take it. If they go the Tomb Raider route, it could be a quasi-open world type adventure game, though I do imagine it’s going to be an FPS. Perfect Dark looter shooter? I mean, you know I’d be down for that.
So, strange news, but it does make some amount of sense given Crystal Dynamic’s connection to both The Initiative and Microsoft. This relationship is certainly one to keep an eye on.