The share price of Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive slid on Wednesday following the news that co-founder and top creative boss Dan Houser was leaving.
Shares of Take-Two finished on Wednesday at $120.76, which is down from $126.93 from the day prior, before the company announced Houser’s forthcoming departure. That’s a drop-off of nearly 5 percent, which is a giant drop for a single day.
News of Houser leaving Take-Two came out of nowhere. The company disclosed his departure in a regulatory filing in the United States, but the firm has declined to share any further details regarding the reason for his exit.
The company did, however, state that Houser had been away from the company on an “extended break” since spring 2019 following the intense workload of Red Dead Redemption 2. Houser said he and a small team worked 100-hour work weeks during some stages of the game’s production, for which he was a writer.
Take-Two will hold its next earnings briefing on February 6, so it might not be long until we learn more about this situation.
Given the very little information that was made available, it’s understandable that investors and analysts might be spooked, leading to a downturn in Take-Two’s share price. What we do know, however, is that Dan’s brother, Sam Houser, is staying with Rockstar as its president.
Dan Houser’s last day with Rockstar is March 11, 2020. He goes out on a very high note as it relates to commercial success. Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2, the final two games he worked on that have shipped, have combined to sell 150 million copies. GTA 5 is the best-selling game of the decade in the United States.
It remains to be seen what impact the loss of Dan Houser has on Rockstar’s future games, including the expected GTA 6. He was a key creative figure in the development of the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises.
In 2018, Dan Houser said it would be tricky to make GTA 6 in the world’s political climate.
“It’s really unclear what we would even do with it, let alone how upset people would get with whatever we did,” Houser said about GTA 6. “Both intense liberal progression and intense conservatism are both very militant, and very angry.
“It is scary but it’s also strange, and yet both of them seem occasionally to veer towards the absurd. It’s hard to satirise for those reasons. Some of the stuff you see is straightforwardly beyond satire. It would be out of date within two minutes, everything is changing so fast.”
According to Kotaku reporter Jason Schreier, Rockstar’s workplace culture has been “rapidly improving” following the reports of extended crunch at the studio back in 2018.
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