Former Rockstar North boss raises $42m for his GTA rival
Netease invests in Leslie Benzies’ new studio
Former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies has raised £32 million ($42m) in funding for the development of his new Grand Theft Auto rival, Everywhere.
Benzies, who was one of the most influential figures behind the GTA series, left Rockstar under difficult circumstances in 2016.
The producer sued Take-Two Interactive for $150 million in unpaid royalties, alleging that the company tried to force him out after he took a sabbatical. The claim was eventually settled in 2018.
The year prior, he announced the formation of Build a Rocket Boy, an Edinburgh and Budapest-based games studio which has already hired over 130 people including former GTA developers, including GTA V programmer Colin Entwistle, lead cinematics animator Felipe Busquets, music director Craig Conner and audio director Matthew Smith.
According to a new report in The Telegraph, Build a Rocket Boy has now secured investment from companies including Chinese gaming giant Netease.
In its latest funding round the studio raised £32m, according to data from the consultancy Beauhurst. This includes investment from Cayman fund Makers and New York cryptocurrency investor Galaxy Interactive.
Build a Rocket Boy’s first game is open-world title Everywhere, which Benzies told Venturebeat in 2017 would be unlike anything he’s done before.
“Everywhere has a lot of traditional game mechanics but we’re going for something more that draws inspiration from, well, everywhere,” Benzies said.
“Players are getting smarter and require more from their games, and we want players to have the real freedom to live in our worlds in the ways they want to. We’re aiming to offer a huge variety of game modes and styles that not only tell our stories but also enable players to live in the identities and adventures they most want to explore.”
At the time Benzies said his team would use Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine to make Everywhere.
Dan Houser, Rockstar’s creative lead of more than 20 years, left the studio in March. Veteran Grand Theft Auto writer and producer Lazlow Jones also announced his departure this year.
A recent Kotaku report claimed work on the unannounced next GTA title was “still early in development” and that it could be “moderately sized” upon release, partly to reduce employee stress and crunch, before being regularly expanded over time.