Rockstar Games, for the entirety of its run in the gaming industry, has been nothing short of excellent. Whether it is destroying sales and drumming up controversy with the GTA franchise or creating modern-day western classics with Red Dead Redemption, the company has knocked every ball out of the park.
The GTA franchise has not only invited controversy from every news publication and parent group but it seems to revel in this fact. The series will poke fun at just about everything with relentless and clever satire.
At the heart of the creative force behind GTA were 2 brothers from London: Sam and Dan Houser. The brothers are credited as the co-founders of Rockstar Games and have collectively helmed the GTA franchise as well as Red Dead Redemption.
In February of 2020, it was revealed that Dan Houser was leaving Rockstar Games in March after an extended break in 2019 while Sam Houser would hold on to his post as president of Rockstar Games.
GTA: Why did Dan Houser leave Rockstar Games?
Dan has been integral to the creative process of the GTA franchise and Red Dead Redemption. Not only does he have production credits on all the GTA games but he has also been the creative lead and played a major role in the writing.
His work in the GTA franchise has more or less shaped the identity of the series, and his departure unsurprisingly caused a stir in the fanbase. The reasons for his departure are still unclear but most point to the tumultuous development of Red Dead Redemption II.
Dan Houser's comments regarding the 100-hour work weeks
During the game's development, Dan Houser was quoted as saying that the studio needed to push 100-hour work weeks in order to finish the game. This caused a massive uproar in the media and the industry, with "crunch culture" brought into question.
Rockstar Games essentially became the poster child for toxic work culture in the videogames industry, resulting in a lot of bad press. While the company would explain that Dan's comments were to do with the core writing team and not the entire staff, the damage was already pretty severe.
Rockstar Games would go on to make sweeping changes to the work culture, as explained in a report by Kotaku, possibly to avoid any more scrutiny.
Dan Houser and the departure of major figures from Rockstar
It would be a massive understatement to say that Dan Houser was integral to GTA's identity. However, he wasn't the only one leaving his post in Rockstar Games.
More recently, Lazlow Jones, who had been an integral part of the game's writing, also left the company, only two months after Dan's departure. but his reasons were more personal, with him needing time for his family.
Leslie Benzies, who has had production credits on every GTA game as well as Max Payne 3, Red Dead Redemption and many others, has also left the company for a personal venture.