It came as a massive shock to GTA fans and the entire gaming community at large when Dan Houser announced his departure from Rockstar Games.
Houser along with brother Sam co-founded Rockstar Games when they moved to New York in 1998 after BMG Interactive was acquired by Take-Two. Since then, Houser has been the most influential creative-voice in the industry while experiencing recurring success with the GTA franchise and several other Rockstar projects.
Houser has been credited as the lead writer and producer for all mainline entries in the GTA franchise and Red Dead Redemption. It is safe to assume that Houser had been at the core of Rockstar's creative direction and his departure will have a massive effect on future projects.
How Dan Houser's absence will affect the development of GTA 6 and future Rockstar games
The Houser siblings always shied away from the spotlight. They chose to work in silence and put out massive games. As a result, Rockstar Games created a mythical aura around itself as one of the premier AAA publishers and studios. Yet their most influential creative-voice rarely appeared in the limelight.
Nonetheless, Houser's presence along with an original brand of satire and clever writing was always at the forefront in the GTA games. Not only has he managed to make a cultural phenomenon out of a franchise but also achieved success with Red Dead Redemption.
Therefore, fans were instantly concerned for the future of the studio when the gaming community learned that Houser will be stepping down as Vice President of Creative and head writer at Rockstar Games.
The deafening hype surrounding GTA 6
By simply browsing gaming content on the internet, one will find dozens of comments relating to GTA 6. The franchise has been tremednously successful without a single misfire in the series (if we forget GTA Advance). So, it makes sense for a sequel to have generated this sort of hype.
Fans hopeful for a sequel were concerned about the quality of the franchise going forward following Houser's departure from the company. However, Houser's was not the only departure from the company that sent fans into a state of worry. Lazlow Jones, another beloved and influential personality, left Rockstar Games shortly after Houser.
Jones mostly played a fictional version himself in the GTA universe, voiced characters, and performed motion capture. He was also involved in the writing and production of many other Rockstar projects.
To make matters appear worse, the former president of Rockstar North and lead producer on all Rockstar's titles - Leslie Benzies - also left the studio and the company. Benzies was cenral to the development of the GTA franschise.
Benzies also sued Rockstar Games claiming $150 million in unpaid royalties. Are fans correct to worry for the quality of future projects from Rockstar Games all things considered? Well, yes and no.
Rockstar's track record of excellence
Like most endeavors in entertainment, game development is a collective effort of numerous individuals. While Houser and Jones were undoubtedly influential voices in the company, Rockstar Games always had an excellent team of creatives for the longest time.
Houser proved over time that the GTA franchise can maintain its quality while going through all sorts of identity and tonal shifts. Whether the gritty sequel to San Andreas in GTA IV or an over-the-top heist thriller in GTA V, Rockstar has proved they know their audience extremely well.
More than that, Rockstar has shown that every project gets maximum attention to detail. Sometimes at the cost of a longer developmental period. This is a good sign since the studio and publisher will attempt their best to eliminate all possibilities of crunch given the hot water they landed in during the development of Red Dead Redemption 2.
While it is heartbreaking to think about Houser, Lazlow, and Benzies's absence from future GTA project, Rockstar Games runs a tight ship that guarantees excellence with each release.Published 11 Jan 2021, 14:28 IST