Dan Houser, writer, producer, and co-founder of Rockstar Games, will leave his role next month.
In a Take-Two Interactive earnings call – regular feedback for investors on the company’s progress – they ran through all of the usual stuff. Bookings, earnings, forecasts, and all the other dry, business stuff that most average consumers wouldn’t be interested to hear.
But there was one noteworthy element of the earnings call that will grab the attention of even the casual observer: Dan Houser is leaving Rockstar Games.
Dan Houser and his brother, Sam, founded Rockstar Games – along with Terry Donovan and Jamie King – out of the ashes of BMG Interactive in 1998. BMG Interactive was owned by Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar became another Take-Two subsidiary, bringing its biggest asset, the Grand Theft Auto IP, along for the ride.
Over the past 21 years, Rockstar has grown, to say the least. Grand Theft Auto is one of the biggest franchises on the planet. GTA V is regularly in the sales charts, even though it’s been out for over six years, and the sixth entry in the series is no doubt in development. Dan Houser has worked as writer on every Rockstar-developed entry in the franchise, in addition to Max Payne 3, Bully, and all of the Red Dead Redemption series.
Now Houser is set to depart Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive on March 11, 2020. That’s technically his last day, but it sounds as though he’s been away for a lot longer than that, after an “extended break beginning in the spring of 2019”.
Houser, who boasted that Rockstar staff were “working 100-hour weeks” on Red Dead Redemption 2, is widely believed to be at the centre of crunch culture at Rockstar Games. The departure of one executive is unlikely to change that overnight. (But it probably can’t hurt, right?)
Houser’s departure has certainly had an instant impact on the markets: Take-Two stock is down five points since the announcement.