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Rockstar: Dan Houser's Legacy

Rockstar: Dan Houser's Legacy

Every industry has its legends and videogames are no different. Influential idols who have shaped the landscape of what we know today. People like Ken Levine and Shigeru Miyamoto. Those whose work you've encountered, whether you know it or not. Individuals who inspire creative choices not just now, but far into the future.

Dan Houser is without a doubt, shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest minds this industry is likely to see. In the mid-1990s he took an early concept design known as Race'n'Chase and converted it to a little known title called Grand Theft Auto. Even the most ambitious individual could never have envisioned the juggernaut GTA would become. It's a legacy he has built since the 90s. Most know him and Rockstar for the GTA series. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t stumbled across that series in some way. It's a franchise drenched in critical acclaim and commercial success. It’s a series that will be inspiring creativity for generations to come.

Of course, Houser's talents spread beyond the scope of Grand Theft Auto. He has had a hand in Bully, the often overlooked Max Payne 3 and, what a lot of people consider his crown jewel, Red Dead Redemption. His influence and creative style will flow through the blood of the games industry far into its future. Grand Theft Auto III helped the series take a massive leap forward. Its open-world didn’t just build the foundation of the franchise's free-roaming brilliance but also allowed Houser’s writing to shine. His, usually comical, social commentary of America is one of the highlights of the series. The shift to a 3D world allowed the writing to take advantage of the environment, as well as helping personify the larger than life characters the series has become known for. It was an important change. A change that would launch Grand Theft Auto’s popularity to heights no one would consider possible.

Houser's talent is undeniable. Should he call an end to his career here, it would have been a career worthy of all the praise and esteem he has received. He took a simple idea and helped turn it into one of the most iconic names in gaming. Should he choose to carry on, people will be excited to see what he can achieve outside of the Rockstar name. Speaking of, what does Houser's exit mean for Rockstar and their flagship franchises?

As of this September, Grand Theft Auto V will be seven years old. As Dan Houser bathes in his plaudits, we see Rockstar in a precarious position.

Precarious is probably a bit of an overstatement. Rockstar is a superpower. They hold one of the world’s strongest media franchises in their hands. With Houser moving on, you cannot help but worry about the direction the company may start to go. GTA V has existed for almost a decade and still prints money. It's not a surprise Rockstar hasn't moved on. Nor is it a surprise they're looking at bringing the GTA Online concept to other titles.

The money it makes is unprecedented, and you cannot blame Rockstar for wanting to capitalise on it. Despite that, there's an overwhelming concern about what Rockstar may become. Dan Houser was an influential figure in the company and he fought the corner for story-driven, single-player titles. Those Hollywood blockbuster epics we've seen over the past 20 years have been him. His ideology built those games and built Rockstar as a company. It built the franchises people have come to love. Now everything Houser built may be under threat.

Yes, Rockstar games are a guaranteed hit. It’s true that they can expect to make billions from each title, but that's because of the company Houser and his brother built. If Rockstar swerves too far from the stories they're known for telling, they may end up pulling the groundwork from under their own success.

Adam Kerr

Adam Kerr

Staff Writer

Doesn't talk about Persona to avoid screaming in anger

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