Rockstar’s Dan Houser leaves behind a legacy of perfection at all costs

Dan Houser, a key creative force behind the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises and a co-founder of Rockstar Games, will be exiting the company in March. He leaves behind a legacy of perfect in his work, one that led to controversy surrounding his company’s labor practices.

The news was announced via Rockstar Games’ parent company Take-Two Interactive on February 4, which clarified that Houser had already been on an extended break since last spring. His final official day will be March 11.

“We are extremely grateful for his contributions,” Take-Two said in a statement. “Rockstar Games has built some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful game worlds, a global community of passionate fans, and an incredibly talented team, which remains focused on current and future projects.”

Dan Houser played a key role in the development of all of Rockstar Games’ most successful titles, including Grand Theft Auto IV, Grand Theft Auto V, and Red Dead Redemption II. The company has become famous for its biting satire of modern society and critiques of the American Dream, with targets on both the right and left.

Dan Houser worked alongside his brother Sam, who acted as executive producer on the games. Sam Houser will remain with Rockstar Games.

Rockstar Games crew, w/ Leslie Benzies, Sam Houser, Dan Houser (L-R, center)

Alongside the acclaim Houser’s writing work has received, House recently received criticism over labor practices at the studio. Rockstar found itself at the center of a major “crunch” controversy following an interview Houser gave in the lead-up to Red Dead Redemption II‘s release, in which he said the studio was working 100-hour weeks. He later claimed only he and a small group of writers were doing this, but the interview served as catalyst for a larger discussion on game labor and potential unionization.

Houser’s departure may leave a void at Rockstar Games that another writer will have to fill. It’s unclear which project the company is currently working on, but in all likelihood it will be a new Grand Theft Auto game for next-generation systems. The last game in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto V, is the most profitable piece of media in history, routinely still charting on monthly lists despite originally launching in 2013.

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