It’s the end of an era at Rockstar Games — parent company Take-Two Interactive has revealed that Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser is leaving on March 11th. It wasn’t clear just why Houser was departing (we’ve asked for comment), but Houser was already on an “extended break” that started in spring 2019. His brother Sam Houser is still with Rockstar as its president.
It’s no secret that Houser helped preside over one of the most successful developers in gaming history. Between the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead games, Rockstar has pulled in massive sales — in some cases thriving with titles that are several years old. Unlike some co-creators of very large studios, though, he still had a more direct hand in producing games. He was an executive producer and writer for Red Dead Redemption 2, for instance.
His commitment got him in trouble in recent years. When he boasted of 100-hour work weeks for RDR2, that led many to think he was referring to the entire studio. He later clarified that he was only referring to the senior writing team, but the initial statement led many to worry that Rockstar (and many other developers) was fostering an unhealthy work climate.
Rockstar won’t be in dire straits without Houser. It has a much larger team than it did when it was founded in 1998, and his brother will still play a key role. This could influence Rockstar’s game design process, though, even if it’s unlikely to make a radical change any time soon.