Welcome to Replay, WIRED’s rundown of the week’s biggest videogame news. This week, we’re revisiting the legacy of some of gaming’s biggest figures. From Rockstar to Blizzard, the past is the present these days. Let’s get to it.
Rockstar Games, one of the most significant entities in the history of the videogame industry, was founded in 1998 by Dan and Sam Houser, who have since run the company while maintaining deep creative involvement in each of the studio’s flagship titles. This week, Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Dan Houser will be leaving his role as head of creative at the company, ending a tenure that’s lasted more than 20 years. A short statement in the filing notes that his last day will be March 11 and that the company is “extremely grateful for his contributions.”
Instrumental in some of the most beloved and hated games in history, including the Grand Theft Auto titles, Houser is credited as a writer on nearly all of Rockstar’s titles. One of his most recent creations was Red Dead Redemption 2, a massive and sprawling game that, as he once told New York magazine, required employees to work 100-hour weeks to complete. As Ars Technica reports, Take-Two stock has taken a dip since the news hit, suggesting doubt amongst investors about what Rockstar will look like going forward.
Last week, Warcraft III: Reforged released, promising an updated take on one of Blizzard’s most important games. It has not gone well. As Rock Paper Shotgun recounts, the issues are myriad. But perhaps the biggest complication is that unsatisfied players seem unable to just return to the original, as the base version of the game has been ported into the new client, meaning some of the problems now retroactively apply to the original game, too. It’s kind of impressive, really. It’s not often that a remaster actually breaks the game it’s based on.
However, if you bought Warcraft III: Reforged and are frustrated at how it’s been rolled out, we some good news: Blizzard is honoring refunds for the game beyond the typical trial period.
We weren’t big fans of The Outer Worlds, but a lot of people did love Obsidian’s latest role-playing game, and fans of playing on-the-go were undoubtedly looking forward to the game’s forthcoming port to the Nintendo Switch, which was set to be released in March. They’re going to have to look forward a little longer. As Kotaku reports, the Switch port, being developed by Virtuos, is now being delayed until at least April. The reason? Coronavirus. The illness, which is hitting harder in China than anywhere else, is apparently affecting the Singapore-based team, which means work on the title will slow. It goes to show how international the videogame industry is, even for titles ostensibly developed in North America. Far more work gets outsourced to firms like Virtuos than you might imagine. We wish them good health.
I’m not sure if I like Grand Theft Auto V. It’s mean, juvenile, and kind of bizarre. But it’s beguiling. The size of it is astounding, a fully rendered digital Los Angelessorry, sorry, Los Santoson a scale that hasn’t been matched by many other digital cities before or since. Three playable characters with their own vibes and haunts. And it’s beautiful, too! The light hits just right. You can almost feel the California sun, filtering through the smog. I’m not saying you should play through the game’s interminable campaign or anything. But maybe just linger there for a while. Drive some cars. Take a walk. Soak it all in.