Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser left the studio in 2020 and founded a new operation in 2021 called Absurd Ventures. It turns out that he’s brought some heavyweight former Rockstars with him to the new gig: As noted by French site Begeek (via Stephen Totilo), Rockstar’s former vice-president of writing Michael Unsworth joined in October as Absurd Ventures’ head of story and creative management, and former writer and producer Lazlow Jones is onboard as executive producer.
Unsworth brings an enviable list of credits to the table from his time at Rockstar: He joined the studio in 2007 as senior creative writer and contributed to games including Midnight Club: Los Angeles, LA Noire, Max Payne 3, Grand Theft Auto 4 and 5, and Red Dead Redemption and RDR2. He was promoted to vice-president of writing in 2021, but departed Rockstar earlier this year, a move that left some fans concerned about what it might bode for the soon-to-be-revealed Grand Theft Auto 6.
Jones joined Rockstar even earlier, in 2001, and served in various writing, directing, and production roles on a similarly impressive range of games, although he’s likely best known to GTA players for his turns as a radio host in Grand Theft Auto 3, 4, and 5. He left Rockstar in 2020, shortly after Houser’s departure, and according to his LinkedIn profile he actually joined Absurd Venture just a year later, in June 2021, although it seems to have gone largely unnoticed until now.
Unsworth and Jones are the best-known of the bunch, but they’re not the only big names to join Houser at his new thing: As noted by Rockstar Intel, former Rockstar vice president of new media Adam Tedman joined Absurd Ventures in 2022 as head of marketing, while Pandemic Studios co-founder Greg Borrud is on board as head of games.
It’s been a few years since Absurd Ventures was first revealed, but I imagine we’ll be paying more attention to what it’s getting up to in the relatively near future. After an extended period of silence, the studio began teasing its debut project in June with the launch of a website carrying the tagline “Storytelling. Philanthropy. Ultraviolence,” along with a really bizarre teaser trailer.
It’s mostly cryptic nonsense, and the studio’s promised commitment to “building narrative worlds, creating characters, and writing stories for a diverse variety of genres, without regard to medium” doesn’t say much either. But given the principals involved, I’m expecting big and interesting things.