History of Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games was founded in December 1998 as part of Take-Two Interactive. To establish Rockstar, Take-Two used assets from BMG Interactive, which they acquired in March 1998. Through this acquisition, Take-two acquired two intellectual properties from BMG, namely Grand Theft Auto and Space Station Silicon Valley.

Following the acquisition of BMG by Take-Two, three BMG executives moved to New York to work under Take-Two. The three men were Jamie King and the Houser brothers: Sam and Dan. Terry Donnovan, who had worked under the record label BMG Entertainment, also followed in the footsteps of the three. These four men are considered the co-founders of Rockstar.

In addition to BMG Interactive, Take-Two also purchased DMA Design, the developer of Grand Theft Auto, in September 1999. DMA Design was founded in 1987 by David Jones. At its inception, DMA received support from the publisher Psygnosis. At that time, DMA's focus was on making games for three PCs, namely the Amiga, Commodore 64, and Atari ST.

DMA Design managed to make a number of popular games, such as Menace and Blood Money. In 1991, they launched Lemmings, a puzzle-platformer game that became an international hit. According to Opium Pulses report, Lemmings sold 15 million units. Not only that, in the period 1991-2000, Lemmings got 5 sequels and 2 expansions. DMA's success with the Lemmings allowed them to create more ambitious games. One of them is Grand Theft Auto.

The first Grand Theft Auto launched in October 1997. Shortly after, DMA Design was purchased by Gremlin Interactive for GBP4.2 million. Under Gremlin, DMA released several new games, such as Body Harvest, Space Station Silicon Valley, Tanktics, and Wild Metal Country. However, Gremlin was later acquired by Infogrames for GBP24 million and assets from DMA Design were sold to Take-Two Interactive.

In 1999, Take-Two acquired DMA Design. At that time, they were developing GTA3D and Grand Theft Auto: Crime World. Although the development of Crime World was eventually discontinued, DMA continued to make GTA3D, whose name was later changed to Grand Theft Auto III. In October 2001, GTA III was released for the PlayStation 2. A few months after that, in March 2002, DMA Design was integrated with Rockstar Games. The studio's name was changed to Rockstar North in May 2002.

GTA at a glance

After operating for more than two decades, Rockstar Games has several popular franchises, such as Red Dead, Max Payne, and Manhunt. However, it is undeniable, Grand Theft Auto is their most popular franchise.

The first Grand Theft Auto was developed in April 1995. At that time, the game had the title Race'n'Chase. Indeed, at first, GTA was made with the concept of a multiplayer racing game that allows players to crash their cars with each other.

David Jones, the founder of DMA Design who is also the Producer of GTA, revealed, Pac-Man is one of the games that inspired GTA. You may be wondering how Pac-Man could be the inspiration for GTA? In Pac-Man, you have to eat all the dots and avoid the Ghosts. While in GTA, you can hit pedestrians with a car, even if that means you have to be ready to be chased by the police.

Besides Pac-Man, another game that inspired GTA was Elite, said Gary Penn, who was then Creative Director of DMA. Elite, which was launched in 1984, is a game about space trading and combat simulation. At the time, this game was considered a revolutionary game because it used 3D graphics and an open-world system.

The development of Grand Theft Auto itself did not run smoothly. Time and time again, the game was about to be cancelled. However, the developers at DMA were determined to finish the game.

GTA-Related Controversy

Grand Theft Auto is indeed the most popular franchise owned by Rockstar Games. So far, there have been seven GTA games, four spin-off games, and four expansions. Grand Theft Auto V, which was launched in 2013, has sold 135 million units. That way, GTA V becomes the game with the second largest sales figure in the world. With a total income of US $ 60 billion, GTA V is also one of the most profitable games.

Even so, it is undeniable that GTA games have also drawn criticism and controversy. Explicit violence is one reason why Grand Theft Auto has come under criticism. For example, in GTA III, players can hire a commercial sex worker (PSK) and kill him so he doesn't have to pay. Another reason why GTA often gets protests is the presence of sexual content. The Hot Coffee minigame in GTA: San Andreas became one of the biggest controversies involving GTA. The reason is, the minigame displays a sex scene between the main character and his lover.

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Rockstar actually disabled the minigame before they released San Andreas. However, as mentioned by Screen Rant, this doesn't stop modders from activating the code from Hot Coffee so they can access the minigame content. In the end, Rockstar decided to remove the code from Hot Coffee from San Andreas so that the content was no longer accessible.

In addition to violence and sexual content, Rockstar has also received protests because it does not hesitate to include sensitive content related to politics, especially for citizens of the United States. For example, in GTA: Vice City, there is a dialogue that calls for support for killing immigrants from Haiti. This received protests from the Haitian-American community.

Single-Player vs Multiplayer

In 2013, one of the hot topics discussed in the gaming industry was whether single-player games were still in demand in the midst of the rise of online games. Interestingly, at that time, Rockstar launched Grand Theft Auto V, which focused on single-player elements, and also GTA Online, which is still part of GTA V and is a multiplayer game. At that time, at Polygon, Dan Houser, one of the founders of Rockstar, admitted that he believed that single-player games were still in great demand by many people.

"I think multiplayer games that are executed well do attract a lot of people, but the audience for multiplayer games won't be as large as single-player games," Houser said, as quoted by Polygon. "Multiplayer games can't do that right now." Houser revealed, most online games, such as Call of Duty, still have a single-player element, although of course, there are still some online games that are exceptions, such as World of Warcraft.

"Even Call of Duty players don't always play multiplayer," said Houser. “There are still many gamers who like to play single-player adventure games. And I think games like that are what we make. Our action adventure games have strong adventure mechanics and components. Indeed, our game is not an RPG. However, the difference between our action adventure games and RPGs is getting thinner.”

Furthermore, he said, “I think single-player games still have their problems. However, single-player adventure games can still sell if they are of high quality. Just like a multiplayer game that can become popular if it's really interesting."

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