I buy into the theory that 'The Initiative' is a small studio designed to prototype ideas, take external partners for a spin, and see first-hand if they would be a good fit for MS. I would not be surprised if MS picked up Crystal Dynamics before Perfect Dark's launch.
That’s actually what they are.
Phil always said their brief was to make great games in new ways.
The plan was always to get top class talents to conceptualize a game and take it to pre-production stage. Then pull in experienced outsourced talents for the actual production stage.
People thought the Crystal dynamics bit was a ‘gotcha’ for MS but in reality, it was always in the pipeline.