Matt Booty, the head of Microsoft Game Studios, was the ‘Storytime’ keynote speaker at PAX West in Seattle over the weekend. Booty spoke on several topics during his hour-long Q&A panel, but one particular note on Xbox’s Perfect Dark reboot did stand out.
News that the game might be in some kind of trouble broke earlier last year, when it was revealed that Avengers and Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics was being brought in the support development. Those reports were compounded earlier this year when stories began to emerge that the project was being bogged down due to an extraordinarily high rate of staff turnover. At the time, former staff cited dissatisfaction with the game’s direction as the reason for the staff exodus.
According to Booty, these reports are nothing to worry about, particularly when it comes to partner studios. He was quick to remind the audience that it’s perfectly normal for multiple teams to work on larger games like this.
“How we make games is changing,” said Booty during his keynote. “The idea of a single team under one roof really doesn’t happen that often anymore.”
“We just did this big partnership with Crystal Dynamics and I read online that this must mean there’s a problem,” he continued. “It’s quite the opposite.
“You’ve got this veteran team at Crystal Dynamics, a big AAA team with over a hundred people that becomes available — of course we want to work with them, particularly if they’ve made a game like that before.” Booty then goes on to list a number of games that employed partner studios to get them out the door like Age of Empires 4 and Flight Simulator.
When asked how to reboot a character like Joanna Dark in the modern era, Booty was circumspect: “Very carefully.”
“Those things … they don’t always age well. What’s super cool about Perfect Dark, about Joanna Dark, is the super agent fantasy, the Bourne Identity James Bond kinda thing. That’s a cool meme, it’s something people want to lean into. But we’ve got to make sure that comes forward in the right way.”
Details around the Perfect Dark reboot remain scarce. To date, Xbox has only released a single trailer, a CGI tonal teaser, at the Game Awards in 2020.