The head of Rockstar Leeds has revealed to Develop that the studio is ramping up for expansion, with aims to develop new IPs for 360 and PS3.
In an exclusive interview in the latest issue of Develop (available to download here), studio head Gordon Hall (pictured) said the studio hopes to take a forward from being a highly-profitable team working on handheld versions of established franchises such as GTA and Midnight Club to developing its own new ideas.
"We’re going to be branching out further into next-gen – we’ve done original work on an existing franchise, but now we want to work on new IPs, and are looking at what we can do on Xbox 360 and PS3," he explained.
"To succeed on those formats you’ve got to put everything into it or step away – we’re already lucky to have a really committed team, so I think that we will step up to become an established Rockstar studio know for original projects."
Hall, who co-founded the studio as Mobius prior to its acquisition by Rockstar Games in 2004, couldn’t confirm any specifics, but did talk generally about one potential idea the studio may make:
"One idea we are talking about that I can’t talk too much about is something we’ve discussed with Sam Houser a lot, and when we talk about the concept – which is just a postage stamp sized idea at the moment, it’s not in production yet – just makes us crack up laughing. It’s an idea that the New York team came up with and which then evolved as we discussed it with them; it’s a short development cycle, just 18 months, and it really excites me. But you know what we’re like – we don’t say anything concrete about a game until a few months before release so that’s all I can say."
In line with its aspirations to create new titles, Rockstar Leeds hopes to expand its team of 70 developers by around 25 more staff.
Of late, it has been the most prolific of all Rockstar’s studios, producing the PSP and PS2 games GTA Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, the PSP versions of Midnight Club and The Warriors, and is hard at work finishing the Wii version of Table Tennis.
That latter game he says has "really found its home on Wii", and is due out later this year.
But don’t think that the studio is abandoning handheld. Hall said: "It’s not over for handheld for us – there’s more coming there – but our new focus will be on the new formats."
The full interview with Hall discusses in depth the ‘Rockstar ethos’ for making games via iterative replay of games-in-progress (timely comments given the recent decision by sister studio Rockstar North to delay the release of GTAIV) and what he thinks of the issues related to the ban of Rockstar London’s Manhunt 2. You can read it in the free PDF version of Develop issue 75, available here.
The interview is available to to read here.