Dan Houser is leaving Rockstar (which he co-founded)

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rorie

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#1 rorie  Staff

Publisher Take-Two issued a short statement as part of an SEC filing which read:

We are extremely grateful for his contributions. Rockstar Games has built some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful game worlds, a global community of passionate fans and an incredibly talented team, which remains focused on current and future projects.

Houser’s last role with the company was Vice President, Creative at Rockstar. His contributions to some of the biggest video games of the modern era have been immense, serving as lead writer on everything from Grand Theft Auto V to the Red Dead Redemption games.

This is really surprising news, to me at least. When you see people leave companies like BioWare or Blizzard, that's usually because of a merger or acquisition going weird and they no longer feel like they have the power to execute on their game-making desires. I know Rockstar is technically a part of Take Two but I've never heard of any internal friction that would seem to make a move like this likely (although of course Rockstar is pretty buttoned-up for the most part). Here's hoping his departure is just to explore new opportunities (or take a break) rather than something dramatic.

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OMGFather

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Damn. I really can't imagine Rockstar without both the Houser's.

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taaltos

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He might be tired of making big big games and might want to focus on something smaller, outside of the weight, for better or worse, that the Rockstar brand brings with it. I can understand that.

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Pezen

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That's some interesting news! It also made the Take-Two stock drop 5,5% apparently, curious to see how it changes (if at all) Rockstar in some way.

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whitegreyblack

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I bet Rockstar wishes they still had "The Benz" now! High profile departures at that studio definitely makes you wonder what's in store...

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csl316

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If he was on an extended break, maybe it was just burnout. GTA V brought in so much money that he was probably safe to retire, too. Hopefully it's just a personal decision to allow him time to enjoy himself.

Rockstar's probably going to be alright since he's just one of a few thousand employees. Or we can have a Bioware situation after the doctors left. Time will tell.

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deactivated-5e6e407163fd7

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He's been the main name associated with the writing of their games so I wonder if the fact that GTA Online is such a cash cow and will surely inform GTA 6 that he felt like the company was moving away from focusing on what he did best? Obviously this is pure speculation.

Despite all their stories having flaws they still put out some of the best single player story driven games ever and this guy is a huge part of that legacy.

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dudeglove

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#8  Edited By dudeglove

Immediately the first thing I'm reminded of is Rockstar's former VP of product development Jeronimo Barrera quietly "leaving" in December 2018 after working there for 20 years, but only announcing it formally in a Variety interview a couple of months later (he's since left the US for Argentina to set up a studio there). It would later be reported by Eurogamer in May 2019 that previous accusations of sexual assault were levied against Barrera by a former Rockstar employee.

Given this brief history of Rockstar's VPs I will be extremely curious as to the reasoning why one of the Housers is leaving.

Edit: Gi.Biz has reported that he's been on hiatus from the company for the past year.

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nutter

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He’s expressed concern over blowback for writing...anything...these days.

If you’ve been doing something creative for 20 years, it’s made you wealthy and it’s no longer enjoyable, moving on makes sense.

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BaneFireLord

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@nutter said:

He’s expressed concern over blowback for writing...anything...these days.

If you’ve been doing something creative for 20 years, it’s made you wealthy and it’s no longer enjoyable, moving on makes sense.

While I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if it wound up being something more sordid, this makes sense to me.

I understand the concerns around high profile people leaving beloved developers (the downfall of Bioware after the Doctors left, etc.) but I can't help but feel optimistic about a potential change in studio leadership in this case. By and large, I love Rockstar's work. I think they create a sense of place better than any other developer out there, I've played hundreds of hours of their games and consider many of them to be masterpieces. But outside of their worldbuilding and production values, they have been producing minor variations on the same gameplay formula for almost 20 years now with very hit-or-miss writing and relatively clunky moment-to-moment mechanics that often feel limited and at odds with the vast opportunity of the world around them.

Assuming that new people will eventually get into the top Rockstar echelon in the wake of departures like this,I would be very excited to see a future GTA or Red Dead or some new IP made by people who grew up surrounded by the gaming landscape that has been so significantly shaped by Rockstar's work. Getting younger, non-Houser, non-Benzies ideas into the mix at the top level could ideally do for Rockstar's open world games what having fresh blood at Nintendo did for Zelda with Breath of the Wild, cleanly breaking with the old formula while still capturing the same sort of revolutionary feeling that GTA III created back in 2001.

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avantegardener

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A combination of wealth and boredom I suspect, look out for his hot sauce/craft beer/hemp beenie startup soon.