Rockstar Games

Rockstar Games, Inc. is an American video game publisher based in New York City. The company was established in December 1998 as a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, using the assets Take-Two had previously acquired from BMG Interactive. Founding members of the company were Sam and Dan Houser, Terry Donovan and Jamie King, who worked for Take-Two at the time, and of which the Houser brothers were previously executives at BMG Interactive. Sam Houser heads the studio as president.[2]

Rockstar Games, Inc.
IndustryVideo games
PredecessorBMG Interactive
FoundedDecember 1998; 22 years ago (1998-12)
Key people
Number of employees
2,000+[1] (2018)
ParentTake-Two Interactive
SubsidiariesSee § Subsidiaries

Since 1999, several companies acquired by or established under Take-Two have become part of Rockstar Games, such as Rockstar Canada (later renamed Rockstar Toronto) becoming the first one in 1999, and Rockstar Dundee the most recent in 2020. All companies organized under Rockstar Games bear the "Rockstar" name and logo. In this context, Rockstar Games is sometimes also referred to as Rockstar New York, Rockstar NY or Rockstar NYC. Rockstar Games also sports a motion capture studio in Bethpage, New York.[2]

Rockstar Games predominantly publishes games in the action-adventure genre, while racing games also saw success for the company. One of such action-adventure game franchises is Grand Theft Auto, which Rockstar Games took over from BMG Interactive, which published the series' original 1997 entry. The most recent game in the series, Grand Theft Auto V, has sold over 140 million copies since its release in September 2013, making it one of the best-selling video games of all time. Other popular franchises published by Rockstar Games are Red Dead, Midnight Club, Max Payne and Manhunt.[3]


Brothers Dan Houser (left) and Sam Houser (right) are two of the co-founders of Rockstar Games. Dan left the company in 2020; Sam is the president.

On March 12, 1998, Take-Two Interactive announced its acquisition of the assets of dormant British video game publisher BMG Interactive from BMG Entertainment (a unit of Bertelsmann). In exchange, Take-Two was to issue 1.85 million shares (around 16%) of its common stock to BMG Entertainment.[4][5] Through this acquisition, Take-Two obtained several of BMG Interactive's former intellectual properties, including DMA Design's Grand Theft Auto and Space Station Silicon Valley.[6][7] The deal was announced to have closed on March 25.[8] Three BMG Interactive executives—Sam Houser, Dan Houser, and Jamie King—as well as Terry Donovan of BMG Entertainment's Arista Records record label, subsequently moved to New York City to work for Take-Two Interactive.[6] In a restructuring announced that April, Sam Houser was appointed as Take-Two's "vice president of worldwide product development".[9] In December 1998, the Houser brothers, Donovan and King established Rockstar Games as the "high-end" publishing label of Take-Two.[6][10][11][12] The formation was formally announced on January 22, 1999.[13]

In January 2007, Take-Two announced that Donovan, until then managing director for Rockstar Games, had left the company following a four-month leave of absence.[14] He was succeeded by Gary Dale, who became chief operating officer.[15] Dale previously worked with the Houser brothers and King at BMG Interactive, but left the company when it was acquired by Take-Two Interactive, and joined Capcom's European operations as managing director in 2003.[16][17]

As of February 2014, Rockstar Games titles have shipped more than 250 million copies,[18] the largest franchise being the Grand Theft Auto series, which alone has shipments of at least 250 million as of November 2016.[19] Grand Theft Auto V shipped the highest number of units within the series' and the company's history, with over 135 million copies, becoming one of the bestselling video games of all time.[20]

At the British Academy Video Games Awards in March 2014, Rockstar Games was honored with the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award for "creating intricately layered interactive worlds that have kept the company at the forefront of the gaming industry for over a decade, both critically and commercially".[21][22] Jennifer Kolbe, who started at the front desk of Take-Two, acts as Rockstar Games' head of publishing and oversees all development studios.[2][23] Simon Ramsey is the company's head of PR and communications.[23]

In May 2019, Rockstar Games announced that they were acquiring Dhruva Interactive from Starbreeze Studios for $7.9 million, with the sale being finalized later that month and the Dhruva team merged into Rockstar India.[24][25]

In September 2019, Rockstar Games announced that they had released their own game launcher, a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications service.[26] After having taken an extended break following the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in early 2019, Dan Houser left Rockstar Games on March 11, 2020.[27]

The company acquired the Scottish studio Ruffian Games in October 2020, rebranding the studio as Rockstar Dundee.[28] In May 2021, Rockstar launched a record label, CircoLoco Records, in collaboration with Circoloco.[29]

Company philosophy

In October 2011, Dan Houser told Famitsu that Rockstar Games was intentionally avoiding developing games in the first-person shooter genre, because "it is in our DNA to avoid doing what other companies are doing [...] the goalpoint of Rockstar is to have the players really feel what we're trying to do."[30][31] Houser went on to say "Our games up to now have been different from any genre that existed at the time; we made new genres by ourselves with games like the GTA series. We didn't rely on testimonials in a business textbook to do what we've done. [...] If we make the sort of games we want to play, then we believe people are going to buy them."[32]

The company has been involved with charitable work ranging from supporting Movember and offering appearances in games as a raffle prize, to charity live streams.[33][34]

Games published

Films produced

Year Title Genre
1999 GTA 2 – The Movie Crime drama
2004 The Football Factory Drama
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Introduction Crime drama
2005 Sunday Driver Documentary
2010 Red Dead Redemption: The Man from Blackwater Western drama


Rockstar Games operates nine studios and an international publishing subsidiary. Where multiple Rockstar studios headed development efforts for a game, "Rockstar Studios" is named as the developer.

Logo Name Location Founded Acquired Notes
  Rockstar Dundee Dundee, Scotland 2008 2020 Formerly Ruffian Games.
  Rockstar India Bangalore, India 2016
  Rockstar International London, England 2003 The international publishing headquarters for Rockstar Games. Located in the same offices as Rockstar London.[35]
  Rockstar Leeds Leeds, England 1997 2004 Created Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. Also ported L.A. Noire to Microsoft Windows.
  Rockstar Lincoln Lincoln, England 1992 2002 Dedicated quality assurance and localization house for games published by Rockstar Games.
  Rockstar London London, England 2005 Completed the development on Manhunt 2 and Midnight Club: L.A. Remix. Located in the same offices as Rockstar International.
  Rockstar New England Andover, Massachusetts, US 1999 2008 Responsible for Bully: Scholarship Edition.
  Rockstar North Edinburgh, Scotland 1987 2002 Responsible for Manhunt and the Grand Theft Auto series.[36]
  Rockstar San Diego Carlsbad, California, US 1984 2002 Responsible for the Red Dead, Smuggler's Run and Midnight Club series. Also houses RAGE Technology Group, an in-house game engine team that is responsible for the development and maintenance of the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine.
  Rockstar Toronto Oakville, Ontario, Canada 1981 1999 Responsible for The Warriors. Also developed Microsoft Windows ports for Grand Theft Auto IV, The Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony, and Grand Theft Auto V.


Logo Name Location Founded Acquired Closed Notes
  Rockstar Vancouver Vancouver, Canada 1998 2002 2012 Responsible for Bully. Merged into Rockstar Toronto in July 2012.
  Rockstar Vienna Vienna, Austria 1993 2003 2006 Porting house with a focus on Xbox. Closed down in May 2006, during the development of Manhunt 2, which was transferred to Rockstar London.



Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) is a game engine developed by the Rockstar San Diego-internal RAGE Technology Group, created to facilitate game development on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, OS X and Wii systems.

Social Club

Rockstar Games Social Club is an online gaming service created by Rockstar Games for authentication and multiplayer applications within their games.

Rockstar Games Launcher

Rockstar Games released its own games launcher for Microsoft Windows on September 17, 2019. The launcher integrates with the user's Social Club account, allowing them to download and buy games that they have previously purchased through Rockstar's store, as well as launch Rockstar games available from other services, like Steam, from the launcher.[37]


  1. ^ Batchelor, James (October 26, 2018). "Analyst expects Houser brothers to receive bulk of $538m Red Dead royalties". Archived from the original on October 26, 2018. Retrieved October 26, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Goldberg, Harold (October 14, 2018). "How the West Was Digitized: The making of Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption 2". Vulture. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2018.
  3. ^ 2020: Grand Theft Auto 5 has now sold 140m copies
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  5. ^ "BMG Interactive Acquired by Take-Two Interactive". Telecompaper. March 16, 1998. Archived from the original on September 8, 2017. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
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  10. ^ "Sam Houser: His-Story". Develop. August 15, 2008. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  11. ^ Maiberg, Emanuel (May 18, 2014). "GTA, Rockstar co-founding brothers squeeze into Britain's 1,000 richest people list with £90 million". GameSpot. Archived from the original on July 10, 2017.
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  13. ^ "Press Release 1/22/99". Take-Two Interactive. Archived from the original on June 4, 2000.
  14. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (January 12, 2007). "Terry Donovan leaves Rockstar". GameSpot. Archived from the original on April 16, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
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  24. ^ Valentine, Rebekah (May 13, 2019). "Rockstar acquires Dhruva Interactive from Starbreeze for $7.9m". Archived from the original on May 13, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2019.
  25. ^ Starbreeze (May 22, 2019). "Starbreeze has closed the transaction of Indian subsidiary Dhruva". Starbreeze Studios. Archived from the original on July 7, 2019. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
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  29. ^ Davenport, Khal (May 24, 2021). "CircoLoco and Rockstar Games Join Forces for New Imprint, CircoLoco Records". Complex. Complex Networks. Archived from the original on May 24, 2021. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
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External links