Former Rockstar North president secures funding for new ‘GTA rival’

Former Rockstar North president and lead producer of the Grand Theft Auto series from GTA III to GTA V, Leslie Benzies, has secured £32 million to develop his Grand Theft Auto competitor, Everywhere for his new studio, new studio, Build a Rocket Boy.

First noticed by The Telegraph, Benzies’ new studio (which operates out of both Edinburgh and Budapest) has secured the funds from a range of Chinese and New York investors like Galaxy Interactive and Netease. 

Benzies sued Rockstar North’s parent company Take-Two Interactive, following his departure from the company demanding $150 million of unpaid royalties back in 2016, citing “numerous deceptions” on the part of Rockstar and its co-founders, Sam and Dan Houser. 

Benzies claimed he was given a period of paid time off to celebrate the monumental success of the GTA franchise, but returned to find he was unable to enter the Rockstar North office due to his building pass being deactivated. The suit was eventually settled out of court in 2018.

Details on Everywhere are still vague but what Benzies has said certainly sounds ambitious for the genre. Speaking to Polygon, Benzies suggested an open-world game where you could seamlessly shift from single-player to multiplayer modes without a lot of menu hopping, “I see a future where we don’t reference single or multiplayer – we just choose when we play and if we want to hang out with others or we want to be alone.”

“Everywhere has a lot of traditional game mechanics but we’re going for something more that draws inspiration from, well, everywhere,” Benzies said while speaking to VentureBeat about the sort of depth you should expect from the game world. “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.”

Later in his discussion with VentureBeat, he would hint at Everywhere also offering more variety and depth to the way you will play it: “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.”  This could mean more detailed player classes than GTA offers, or maybe even entirely different/conflicting roles within the game. While no one knows what sort of world or genre Everywhere will offer, a fitting comparison would be if players got the chance to play as cops in GTA, like what they offer in the very popular GTA RP servers.

Benzies also addressed some possible creative or design influences in his discussion with Polygon, namely Hideo Kojima: “[Kojima] has a great eye for detail.” Of course, Rockstar has a great eye for detail too, so highlighting Kojima makes me think this is less about realistic detail and more about unique design choices (such as Kojima offering a urination mechanic in Death Stranding).

There is no sign of when this title will arrive but a major injection of funding will certainly help. Whatever comes of Everywhere, it is definitely one to watch.

andrewshaw andrewshaw

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Get involved
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum
Former Rockstar North president secures funding for new ‘GTA rival’ | The Digital Fix