Rockstar Games: Time for new IP?

GTA V is a smashing success, but what's next for Rockstar? Chris Morris examines the possibilities

With Grand Theft Auto V shattering entertainment industry sales records, the Houser Brothers and the team at Rockstar Games have once again justified the freedom and independence Take-Two affords them.

They've also got the gaming world wondering what they'll do next.

Few developers enjoy the privileges Rockstar does. Timelines are more flexible than at most studios. Getting a project greenlit is a cakewalk compared to most other studios. And its game budgets are the envy of the industry.

While there's almost certainly DLC in the works for GTA V, the bigger question is what Rockstar has in mind for its next big project. Here are a few possibilities:

New IP - Back in 2008, there was a lot of concern in the industry that the Housers and key talent would leave Take-Two. In December of that year, the publisher announced it had come to terms with the team to keep them in house. One of those terms was Take-Two would fund a new intellectual property "to be owned by a newly formed company controlled by key Rockstar Games team members".

Since then, no one has said or heard anything about the IP. Given Rockstar's notorious secrecy when it comes to development, that's not surprising. But don't think the developer has forgotten about that carrot. With its reputation higher than ever after GTA V, this could be the perfect time for Housers & Co. to bring out a new groundbreaking IP. As an additional bonus? New IPs tend to do best at the beginning of a console cycle.

Bully - Jimmy Hopkins has been off of gamer radars for seven years. And the issue of school violence might make this a subject that's too delicate to touch right now. But Rockstar has never been afraid of controversy - and this is a franchise that the team still loves.


Two years ago, I spoke with Dan Houser about the studio's philosophy of choosing which game to do next. Out of nowhere, Bully entered the conversation.

"We knew that we didn't want to start doing the Bully sequel instantly at that second with those guys - even though it is a property that, like Max [Payne], we adore and might come back to in the future, there was just no impetus to do that then. So we said 'you can do Max, and then we will see what we can do with Bully'. So it was really waiting for the slot to open up and the group to open up to at least start work on it."

Red Dead - When Rockstar announced plans to do a Western-themed game, even the faithful were skeptical. But Red Dead Redemption quickly made people forget the "Grand Theft Horse" jokes and crafted a nuanced action/adventure game that became a critical and commercial smash.


Rockstar San Diego has had three years to plan and start working on a sequel, but whether it has is another matter. While there's bound to be another Red Dead game down the road, it still feels a bit early (by Rockstar's historical timetable) to expect it in the next year.

Agent - First announced as a PlayStation exclusive in June 2009, Rockstar and Take-Two have been especially quiet about this stealth action game set in the Cold War ever since. In 2010, the publisher confirmed the game was still in development. This July, Take-Two renewed its trademark on the brand. But that's it.


It's possible Agent could have moved from the PS3 to PS4 - again, to take advantage of the openness for new IPs in the early days of a console. Heck, Agent might end up being the mystery IP Rockstar owns at this point. We likely won't hear anything about it until the ramp up to E3 2014 at the earliest, though.

Manhunt - Manhunt has its fans, but it has never been the sort of game that appeals to a larger audience like GTA or Red Dead. And it seems unlikely that Rockstar will return to it in the near future.


Rockstar North was the team behind it, though - and once GTA V's DLC is finished, they'll be looking for a new project. For that reason, if for no other, you can't rule it out completely.

Max Payne - Max Payne 3 was a sales disappointment. And Rockstar Vancouver, which made the game, has since been folded into Rockstar Toronto. But it's not the public reaction to the last game that makes a new Max Payne unlikely in the immediate future. It's the fact that the last game came out so recently.


"We like to take a little bit of time at the end of a game before starting a sequel, so we can wait for the excitement or disappointment and everything else of the experience to shake down and really see what we should do in the next game," said Houser in our discussion. "We have never really been annualizers. [Almost] every time we have worked in any kind of excessively quick time span, it hasn't been something we enjoyed or thought we were able to express ourselves properly or make it interesting. So that doesn't really concern us."

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Latest comments (16)

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend8 years ago
One of the trade-offs a really successful IP brings upon its studio is never being able to exceed or match said IP.

Now lets get this in perspective; many would kill to have the success of Rockstar, but at the same time it limits what they can do and increases the likelihood of people disliking anything but their flagship IP. Mojang, Rovio and Zynga all have this problem because they had mega hits which are hard to beat. Hell, Zynga just gave up and went over to gambling.

I am not saying that it isn't a nice problem to have, but inevitably studios that have mega success with a product will usually be tied into that IP until the studio closes. Rockstar have this dilemma too; any game they create will be automatically compared to GTA and the chances of coming up with new IP which surpasses GTA will be a feat for even Rockstar.

It isn't impossible, but would take one hell of a game to do it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 25th September 2013 4:24pm

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Pete Thompson Editor 8 years ago
Not new IP's, but I'd very much like to think that Rockstar may bring out sequels to L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption as they are superb games...

Rockstar are in a unique position, in that their current games have a huge following and are a long way from becoming long in the tooth, dated or boring!
If they do come up with a new IP, i just hope it's another massive open world as that's what R* excel at..
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Kevin L. Clark Founder, Editor-In-Chief, Fresh Thinking Media Group, LLC8 years ago
I would love to see "AGENT" in the list of upcoming PS4 games.
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Show all comments (16)
Chris Wray Freelance 8 years ago
I understand that while GTA puts Rockstar in the bind that everything will inevitably be at least compared to it. However, I firmly believe that the link also serves as a significant launchpad for any game developed by Rockstar.

If I were to hazard a guess, which is exactly what I'm going to do, the "Made by the creators of Grand Theft Auto" sells a few hundred thousand copies in itself. It's a powerful brand and, used properly and sparingly (which Rockstar are quite famous for now), the most effective marketing tool in gaming today. Rockstar never water down the brand they have earned by releasing too many games.

I find it still rather bewildering that Max Payne 3 was a sales disappointment, although it ties into the enviable budgets that Rockstar have. A game that sells four million copies should never be a bad thing. Then again, that's a moot point after the constant announcements by such as Capcom and Square that games that are selling millions upon millions are still under-performing to a large degree.

On the article, there is one IP that hasn't appeared on the list which we haven't seen anything new of in five years: Midnight Club.
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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee8 years ago
Why not? Its not like they will want to continue making one game forever, and they have created new IP in recent years.

Will be interesting to see what comes next.
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 8 years ago
I'd be happy with a L.A. Noir sequel with next-gen graphics, including motionscan (or equivalent) and support for Oculus Rift. With Team Bondi out of the game, hopefully developed with acceptable working conditions.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
Heh. I say they remake Body Harvest using their new tech and see how a time traveling alien invasion game goes over with their fans.

That or they ring up John Carpenter before he's gone and get the rights to THEY LIVE. Heh. that's my dream game project and can be pulled off if done correctly as a solo/co-op game with an online component that may not have been done previously...
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
Regardless of what new IP they come up with people will buy it simply because their name is on it. As for Agent, if it does ever come out hopefully they reconsider that Playstation exclusivity so that more people can enjoy it as a multiplatform title.

I also don't think they will ever bring back Manhunt or Bully with the exception being part of a compilation. It doesn't need to be explained why Manhunt will most likely be permanently shelved. As for Bully, theres way too much drama going on with cyber bullying these days and you can't go a single week without reading or hearing about another middle school or high school girl who killed herself due to cyber bulling and bullying at school. Maybe in a few years things may cool off alittle bit but in todays climate that game would be chastised as if it were evil incarnate.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
@Paul: Girl OR Boy (and not just in middle or high school, either). Just clearing that up so folks don't say you think ONLY girls commit suicide after being bullied too much...
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Konstantin Hohl8 years ago
Havent there already been several rumours about a RDR sequel being in development?I remeber that recruiting staff for that development made some headlines.
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Sebastian Moss Editor -in- Chief, PlayStation LifeStyle8 years ago
What, no Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis?
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Christian Slater DevilBliss Games Consultancy 8 years ago
I second Midnight Club - by far the best arcade racer of last-gen (although its handling wasn't dumb at all).
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 8 years ago
Get Rockstar North back on Lemmings?
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Al Nelson Producer, Tripwire Interactive8 years ago
[from the back of the class] Ooh! , Ooh! me. Back here - the new IP guy
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 8 years ago
@Greg--True but the news stories I have been seeing the most lately are ones focused on girls getting bullied, particularly because some of the parents of the bullied girls(who committed suicide) have brought about lawsuits against the bullies, both kids and other adults involved.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I like when companies do this. As succesful as GTAV is, id hate to see another GTA game so soon. I think the franchise should now rest, give people to soak the current game in and offer a new game in the franchise when they can offer something fresh. In the meantime they can work on a differant franchise or new IP. GTAV looks like it will be collecting money for a while, it has been a huge success, so it would be the perfect time for the company to get creative, take the risks involved with creating a new IP and just go for it. Between GTA, Red Dead redemption, Bully, Id really like to see something new from rockstar. It would be cool if they did something completely differant like something related to sci-fi, or an RPG. But anyway I think rockstar does well to let a franchise rest.
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