Developer: Rockstar North
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4, Xbox One
“I’ve only seen ongoing improvements at Rockstar,” says Strauss Zelnick.
Shocking news recently emerged that Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser – who’d been one of their most influential creative leaders over the years – would be leaving the studio in March. While many are wondering what this means for the future of the company and the quality of its products going forward, parent company Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick ensures that the label is in a healthier position than ever before.
During their recent quarterly financial call, when asked about the situation surrounding Rockstar and Houser’s exit, Zelnick said that “the label has really never been stronger” and that Take-Two remain “incredibly optimistic and excited” about its future. Thanking Dan Houser “for his contributions” and wishing him well, Zelnick also said that the company will continue to be led by Houser’s brother and fellow co-founder Sam Houser, whom he called “a great player and coach”, who has, in fact, been in charge since Spring 2019, with Dan Houser having been on an extended leave since then.
Asked once again later on about the stability of the company and about how it will change under Sam Houser’s sole leadership, Zelnick had a lot to say.
“In terms of team stability, Sam Hauser is President of Rockstar Games,” he said. “He founded Rockstar Games. He’s a great player coach and he leads the team of thousands of people every day who are trying to make the most extraordinary entertainment experiences known to man. And that’s — those are their goals. And more often than not, they achieve or even exceed those goals, which is just amazing. It doesn’t — I don’t typically speak for other people, but I confidently can speak and say that Sam is highly committed to the organization. And Sam and I work very closely together, and it’s an enormous pleasure to be able to be in business with Sam and the entire team at Rockstar.”
“Culturally, I’ve only seen ongoing improvements at Rockstar, frankly, have only seen growth and engagement and innovation,” Zelnick continued. “And I think one of the great things about all of our labels and our company as a whole is that we’re incredibly self critical, and we’re — we aim to be utterly transparent, and we always try to do better. And I think that’s true everywhere, the Take-Two touches and Rockstar Games sets a standard for always trying to improve the quality of its operations, the quality of the way that they work and the quality of their culture.
“I frankly couldn’t be more proud of how effectively that label is operating. I think this year has been one of amazing strength, I mean, dropping content on the same day for both Red Dead Online and Grand Theft Auto Online and delivering content that set records in terms of engagement and player excitement and incidentally revenue and profitability. So things couldn’t be better.”
Reports emerged not too long ago that Rockstar Games were being pressured by Take-Two into adopting a release model that saw them making and releasing games with greater frequency. It remains unknown whether that was a factor in Houser’s departure. While the future remains uncertain, Rockstar’s current behemoths continue to perform impressively, with Red Dead Redemption 2 and Grand Theft Auto 5 both still boasting incredible sales.