Take-Two is happy with how Rockstar has been operating, and doesn’t see Dan Houser’s departure having any effect on studio culture.
A number of the questions Take-Two executives were asked following the reveal of the publisher’s earnings for Q3 of FY2020 have been about the recent, high-profile departure of longtime Rockstar co-studio head Dan Houser.
Dan co-founded Rockstar with his brother Sam, and the pair have been responsible for the narrative side of GTA and Red Dead Redemption. The news was so shocking it caused Take-Two’s stock the next day to drop in value by about 6%. Though it traded higher the following day, it dropped yet again following the earnings reveal by 9.6%.
Addressing concerns from investors about how this might affect future Rockstar games, CEO Strauss Zelnick said that the studio’s output has never been stronger, and that Sam Houser will continue to lead the team like he’s always done.
Zelnick also reiterated that Dan Houser has been on an extended leave since last spring, meaning the core Rockstar team had already been in control for a while.
“So Dan Houser had been on an extended leave since early spring 2019. The company has been led since its founding by Sam Houser who is President of the company and it’s an extraordinary team effort and Sam is a great player and coach,” said Zelnick.
“The label has really never been stronger where we are incredibly optimistic and excited. At the same time, we grateful to Dan for his contributions and we wish him well.”
Zelnick confirmed that he doesn’t expect any other major departures at Rockstar, once again saying that Sam Houser is committed to the studio.
“I don’t typically speak for other people, but I confidently can speak and say that Sam is highly committed to the organisation. 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,” the CEO explained.
Zelnick also dismissed the idea that Dan’s departure could affect the studio’s culture in any way, saying that Rockstar has been operating at peak performance over the past few months.
“Culturally, I’ve only seen ongoing improvements at Rockstar, frankly, have only seen growth and engagement and innovation,” added Zelnick.
“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 GTA 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.”
Take-Two has not revealed what Rockstar’s next project is going to be, other than the studio will continue to work on GTA Online and Red Dead Online.