As the internet is filled with all kinds of news regarding GTA 5 Story DLCs, Bully 2, and Midnight Club 5, we were all stopped for fear of focusing more on GTA Online and Re Dead Redemption 2. According to the news leak by Neoweek through medium.com, first-hand information suggests that all the single-player-only games & DLCs (now canceled) have been due to internal studio design clashes and a shift towards online experiences.
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Benzies vs. Housers: GTA 5’s Creative Rift Was A Major Factor
According to Neoweek, the creative shift regarding the Grand Theft Auto franchise’s future between presidents of Rockstar Games ultimately resulted in the cancellation of GTA 5 Story DLCs, Bully 2, and Midnight Club 5.
After the release of GTA V, stories of 2014 between Leslie Peter Benzies (former president of Rockstar North and lead developer on GTA V & GTA Online) and the co-founder Houser brothers were revealed to many gaming news sites by insider sources. Now Neoweek states that allegedly, Leslie Benzies wanted the GTA franchise to focus on making online-only/focused titles in the future, starting from GTA Online.
Then-president Leslie Benzies envisioned Online Multiplayer as Rockstar’s future, while Sam Houser and his brother Daniel Houser clung to the studio’s single-player legacy. This disagreement between Benzies and Houser brothers reportedly threw planned GTA V expansions into limbo.
After Grand Theft Auto V’s release, Leslie Benzies said they had “some ideas” for Grand Theft Auto VI. Now we know that the game entered development in 2014 and would feature a single player with two Bonnie and Clyde-inspired protagonists.
Benzies Leaves Rockstar North in 2016
The controversial nature of Benzies’ departure from Rockstar fuels the current leak. Benzies took a sabbatical leave from the company in September 2014, but in January 2016, it was announced that he had left for good. Benzies’ account of his exit paints a picture of a forced separation, with claims of being pressured into taking a leave, having his access to company resources revoked, and facing termination upon his attempted return. On the other hand, Rockstar has maintained that Benzies’ departure was voluntary.
Benzies vs Take-Two Interactive Lawsuit
The tension surrounding Benzies’ exit escalated in April 2016 when he filed a $150 million lawsuit against Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive. The lawsuit alleges that Benzies was denied promised royalties and intellectual property rights related to his work on GTA V. While the legal battle is ongoing, it casts a shadow over the reasons behind Benzies’ departure and the fate of the promised single-player expansions.
However, Rockstar remained tight-lipped about the reasons behind the Benzies’ exit and lawsuit, leaving fans to speculate different theories about the fallout of Rockstar’s core team.
GTA Online & RDR2 Grabs Studio’s Attention Over Other GTA 5 DLCs & Games
The alleged 2014 creative clash between Benzies and the Houser brothers didn’t just spark internal clashes with Rockstar North’s single-player and multiplayer teams but ended in stalling work on GTA 5 Story DLCs and Bully 2. As the core team was working on GTA 5 single-player DLCs at the time, following Benzies’ mid-2014 departure, a substantial portion of the GTA V expansion development team reportedly left Rockstar alongside him.
This mass employee resignation significantly impacted the GTA V DLCs’ progress, forcing Rockstar to stop all further development while focusing on hiring new employees. As these new employees needed to be trained in the company’s proprietary game engine RAGE (Rockstar Advanced Game Engine) for RDR2 and the future of the GTA franchise, the lack of resources at the time meant effectively putting all the planned expansions on indefinite hold.
Meanwhile, more than Rockstar expected, GTA Online was rapidly becoming successful. With its engaging player-driven activities and microtransaction revenue stream, it understandably required Rockstar’s focus. Finally, the Houser brothers decided to divert all available resources here. Resources originally designated for single-player DLC were now being dedicated to GTA Online.
By the time RDR 2 was released, Rockstar Games’s focus shifted to adding more content to the online component of Red Dead Redemption 2, Red Dead Online. Then, finally, in full-paced development of Grand Theft Auto VI for a 2025 release.
Benzies’ Envisioned GTA Become “Everywhere”
In 2018, Leslie Benzies announced his new Build a Rocket Boy Games, backed by £32 million, and started developing an open-world game called Everywhere. Everywhere is focused on being an open-world, seamless co-op game with a driven narrative. The team, initially a trio of ex-Rockstar North devs, swelled to thirty by 2017 and is growing. After adopting Unreal Engine 5 in 2020 and showcasing a teaser during Gamescom 2022, Everywhere was available in an alpha test on Windows by December 2023. So, if you wondered how Leslie envisioned the future of the GTA franchise, then you can check out Everywhere’s gameplay and trailers online to get an idea.