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The Untold Truth Of Microsoft's The Initiative

Back in 2018, Microsoft announced at E3 that it was setting up a gaming studio in Santa Monica, CA called The Initiative. The move was seen by some as a tactic for winning the console wars, as its location would allow the company to draw new talent from an area that LA Progressive described as "the global capital of the video game industry." Since then, the studio has been closely watched by members of the gaming industry who want to know what The Initiative is all about. The startup has released nothing yet — but that doesn't mean something big isn't coming.

Xbox head Phil Spencer tweeted in January 2020 about The Initiative's progress, calling it an "incredibly talented studio challenging themselves to do new things things (and old things :-) ) in new ways." In an interview with VentureBeat, The Initiative head Darrell Gallagher said it's great to be given the opportunity to "go build something." 

"That's really the mandate: make something ground-breaking. Innovate," continued Gallagher, who used to oversee the Tomb Raider franchise as studio head of Crystal Dynamics. "Take those brightest minds in the industry and beyond and say, 'What can we do in the future?' We have all this hardware, all these tools, all the creativity."

So, what's actually going on at The Initiative? Here's what we know about the mysterious happenings at this development studio located just a short walk from the beach.

The Initiative is building a dream team

In addition to Gallagher, The Initiative has collected a huge amount of development, animation and artistic talent. A job listing from 2018 that looks like it could be for the southern California studio asked for experience in shipping titles at "AAAA standards" and a knowledge of "building new IP."

Since it was first announced, headlines and social media have informed fans that the company is busy scooping up people who have worked in various areas on God of War, The Last of Us 2, Anthem, Apex Legends, the Uncharted series, the Tomb Raider series, Destiny 2, and others. It hasn't stopped either; on Oct. 14, 2020 a couple more Naughty Dog developers joined the AAA studio, too.

Basically, the company now has a roster full of veteran creative folks known for working on some pretty amazing games — including some favorite first-party Sony PlayStation titles. And it's still hiring, so it's possible more will be added. Gallagher has said that as far as employment numbers go, how much staff he'll have "depends on what we're building."

The Initiative's first game is unknown, but could be a Perfect Dark sequel

Players still have no idea what The Initiative's first game will be. Rumors have been spreading for a while that The Initiative is working on an installment in the Perfect Dark series. That would go along with Spencer's statement at E3 2018 that he and Gallagher had been "talking about some things in our past that might be interesting." But, so far, no one has seen anything.

It appeared that the supposedly playable title was meant to to be shown at the Microsoft games showcase in July 2020, although sources (including VentureBeat journalist Jeff Grubb) later refuted that claim, reminding people that The Initiative only got started in 2018 and noting that Microsoft was planning to hold some releases back from the event. Head of Xbox Game Studios Matt Booty did tell Game Informer in December 2019 that fans would learn more "over the next 12 months."

If it's a Perfect Dark game, it would be the first time since 2010 that the first-person shooter would be revisited. The original title from Rare, which eventually became another Microsoft studio, debuted in 2000. A sequel followed in 2005 and the original was remastered in 2010.