Take-Two Interactive has confirmed Rockstar Games’ co-founder Dan Houser is leaving the company.
It also confirms Houser has been on an “extended break” since early 2019 but did not clarify why Houser took a leave of absence, nor why he was leaving.
Whilst Take-Two Interactive did not want to comment further, it did confirm that Houser’s brother, Sam Houser, will remain at the studio. The news sent share prices tumbling 5.5 per cent.
“After an extended break beginning in the spring of 2019, Dan Houser, Vice President, Creative at Rockstar Games, will be leaving the company,” the company said in a brief statement. “Dan Houser’s last day will be March 11, 2020.
“We are extremely grateful for his contributions. 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.”
Despite the critical and commercial successes, Rockstar has had a difficult few years, including criticism when Houser revealed he worked 100-hour work weeks, which sparked a number of comments criticising a culture of crunch from former employees.
Tax watchdog Taxwatch also recently revealed that during the 2018/2019 financial year, Rockstar was granted the largest claim for relief ever made, accounting for 37 per cent of “all claims made by the UK video games industry in that year” and taking its total relief to £80m since the tax scheme was introduced. It also confirmed Rockstar had paid no Corporation Tax in the UK for the fourth consecutive year.
In response to the report, Rockstar says these tax reliefs have allowed Rockstar to create over 1,000 jobs here in the UK.
“The UK’s program to support the growth of a broad range of creative industries through tax relief is a proven success,” said Rockstar’s statement. “The program has directly resulted in Rockstar Games significantly increasing its investment in the UK, creating well over 1,000 highly skilled and long term jobs across London, Lincoln, Yorkshire and Scotland.
“This investment and the success of British video games supported by the program not only significantly contributes to the economy, and to UK tax receipts, but also helps solidify the UK’s position at the forefront of video game development well into the future,” a Rockstar spokesperson added.