Rockstar Games 25th anniversary

Rockstar Games


DMA Design was founded in Dundee, Scotland by David Jones, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond and Mike Dailly who developed multiple titles for Amiga, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS.

But it was Lemmings in 1991 that put the studio on the map, after selling +15 million copies and spanning multiple sequels. Following their success, the team began working on a small title called Race'n'Chase in 1995.

After more than a year in development, Dan and Sam Houser —two brothers who were working at BMG— received a preview copy of the game which they became obsessed with. It was their decission to pick up the project that finally released in 1997 under the name Grand Theft Auto, published by BMG Interactive.

DMA Design Grand Theft Auto


GTA was a critical and commercial success, which led to the acquisition of BMG's multimedia division —and all their IPs— by Take-Two Interactive in March 1998. In December that year, a new subsidiary was established.

Rockstar Games was founded in New York City by the Houser brothers, Gary Foreman, Terry Donovan and Jamie King. Soon they acquired DMA Design, and together began working on Grand Theft Auto 2 and future titles for the company.

They all felt that video games could appeal to a bigger, wider audience. People with an interest in film, music, books and a broader sense of popular culture. From the start, their aim was twofold — to make games that they wouldn't be embarrassed to be caught playing themselves and to expand the experience of playing those games by making them less limited and more engaging, with the production value of Hollywood movies.

Rockstar Games


Rockstar Games creates some of pop culture's most provocative icons. The company —which describes itself as a high-end publishing label— is known for the creation of groundbreaking video games with unprecedented production values, style and depth, with a dizzying range of techniques and media.

Rockstar's dedication to making the most extraordinary free-form game play captured the enthusiasm of millions of fans around the world and continues to shock those too afraid to take control.

The Rockstar logo was designed by Karen Scott and Jeremy Blake.


Following the success of Grand Theft Auto and GTA 2, Rockstar Games continues to build a name by publishing numerous video games in the late 90s and early 2000s, such as Monster Truck Madness 64, Earthworm Jim 3D, Thrasher: Skate and Destroy, two Austin Powers games and Midnight Club: Street Racing, among others.

At this point Rockstar is still mostly unknown to the public, but the studio is hard at work on their next title, which will astound both players and critics...

In 1999, Rockstar ventured into the nightclub business with the Rockstar Loft.

A new era

With the arrival of the PlayStation 2, Rockstar set out to create their most ambitious title yet. A revolutionary sequel, GTA III was the first in the series to feature a fully 3D world that players could freely explore. The game also featured a movie-like narrative, with cutscenes and dialogue that guided players through this gritty crime tale set in Liberty City, a parody of New York.

Some of the characters are played by renowned American actors —Joe Pantoliano and Frank Vincent, among others— giving the game one of the highest production values at the time.

Claude Speed

Nothing to lose

After the successful PC launch of Max Payne from Finnish video game developer Remedy Entertainment, Rockstar Games was chosen to bring the title to sixth generation consoles, with Take-Two Interactive acquiring the IP that same year.

This relationship with Remedy continued through the decade, as the next game in the series —Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne— was also published in 2003 by Rockstar, who eventually developed their own sequel with Remedy's aid.

Max Payne

Welcome to the '80s

The year following the groundbreaking success of Grand Theft Auto III, the team at DMA Design —now called Rockstar North— had been busy developing an expansion pack set in a different city. Months went by and the project became more ambitious, eventually turning into a whole new entry to the series: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Set in a reimagined 1980s Miami, Vice City introduced a new protagonist to the franchise —Tommy Vercetti— voiced by Ray Liotta. The game draws inspiration from Scarface, Miami Vice and other pieces of 80s pop culture on a revenge story where the player will have to take over this glamorous, hedonistic metropolis.

DMA Design rebranded to Rockstar North shortly after Vice City's release. Tommy Vercetti

Rockstar San Diego

The partnership between Rockstar and Angel Studios originated with the release of Midtown Madness and consolidated after the launch of Midnight Club: Street Racing, which was published by Rockstar in 2000. This resulted in a continuous relationship between both companies who worked together on multiple titles, including the Smuggler's Run franchise.

After Angel Studios' owner Diego Angel expressed interest in selling his company, Take-Two Interactive made him an offer «he could not refuse» and the studio became part of Rockstar Games as Rockstar San Diego in 2002. Not long after that, Midnight Club II released on consoles and PC.

This acquisition also meant the Angel Game Engine became Rockstar's proprietary engine to replace Criterion's RenderWare, and evolved to be the present-day Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE) used since 2006.

Diego Angel left the company in 2005 to return to Colombia. Angel Studios Rockstar San Diego

The final cut

You awake to the sound of your own panicked breath. You must run, hide, and fight to survive. If you can stay alive long enough, you may find out who did this to you.

Few titles have been more controversial than Rockstar's Manhunt, developed by Rockstar North and released for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. A former Rockstar employee stated: «There was almost a mutiny at the company over that game. There was no way to rationalize it. We were crossing a line».

The controversy surrounding the game stems primarily from the graphic manner in which the player executes enemies. The title has garnered a cult following among fans and —despite all the backlash— received a sequel in 2007 developed by Rockstar London.

Manhunt's merchandising includes some of the rarest items ever made by Rockstar. Manhunt merchandising Manhunt Polaroid camera Manhunt Piggsy

Rugged and lawless

Red Dead Revolver was one of the leftover projects from Angel Studios that caught Rockstar's attention. Initially conceived for Capcom and the Japanese market, the game had a troubled development and was unplayable at the time of the studio's acquisition. Once the Rockstar San Diego merger was complete, the title remained in development for two more years until completion and was the first in the acclaimed Red Dead series.

A blazing arcade-style third-person game fueled by precision gunplay, Red Dead Revolver is a classic tale of vengeance on the untamed frontier.

Red Dead Revolver

It's the early '90s

GTA San Andreas was the biggest launch for Rockstar games at the time. Even though the company kept releasing new titles, the latest entry to the GTA series was the most awaited and acclaimed.

San Andreas marked the technological pinnacle of the 3D era of Grand Theft Auto. It included three cities based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and surrounding areas and presented an array of new features such as car tuning, player customization and the ability to swim and dive, amidst many others.

The inspiration for the plot came from events that occurred in the early '90s, including the Los Angeles riots, the Rampart scandal and gang-banger culture. Movies such as Boyz n the Hood and Colors had a huge influence as well.

At 10 million dollars, San Andreas was Rockstar's most expensive game yet. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

The fastest ride ever

Rockstar Games joined forces with DUB Magazine, the authoritative source on automotive lifestyles, to redefine the racing genre once again with Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition. The series that took racing from tracks to the open urban streets is back, and the stakes are even higher.

The third installment in the series delivers insanely fast, open city racing in Atlanta, San Diego and Detroit, complete with 8-player online competition and the most comprehensive vehicle customization ever seen in a video game. It was developed by Rockstar San Diego and released for PS2, Xbox and PSP.

Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition

GTA on the go

There are a million stories in Liberty City. This one changes everything. Once a trusted wise guy in the Leone crime family, Toni Cipriani was forced into hiding after killing a made man. Now he's back and it's time for things to be put right.

After an exclusivity deal with Sony, Rockstar Games presented the first of two GTA titles that would debut on the newly announced PlayStation Portable handheld console. Developed by Rockstar Leeds and Rockstar North and set in the late 90s as a prequel to GTA III, some familiar faces will show up during this contemporary mafia story.

GTA Liberty City Stories is the best-selling game available on the PSP. Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories

Come out to play

As self-proclaimed fans of the 1979 movie The Warriors, one of Dan and Sam Houser's ideas had always been an adaptation of the cult film into a video game. They acquired the rights and reunited most of the original cast members to play their characters again after 25 years in this beat 'em up title.

Developed by Rockstar Toronto, The Warriors expands the stylized cinematic journey of the film into a gritty interactive experience set in 1970s New York.

The Warriors must make their way from one end of New York to their turf on the other side of the city. All that stands between them and their survival are 20 miles and thousands of street gang members.

A spiritual sequel set in the '60s called We Are The Mods was planned but canceled. The Warriors

Get physical

After a confusing announcement that surprised everyone, Rockstar Games brought us Table Tennis, a realistic simulation of the sport created to showcase the capabilities of their cutting edge proprietary engine —RAGE (Rockstar Advanced Game Engine)— developed by Rockstar San Diego.

Once again proving that Rockstar is a company that likes to take risks, Table Tennis debuted on Xbox 360 and Wii as one of the finest simulators of this sport, using high resolution graphics and hugely advanced animation systems to impart physical and emotional information to the player.

Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis

Back to school

Also known as Canis Canem Edit in some regions, this title was Rockstar's first open-world game to feature children, with the main protagonist being a teenager.

After being sent to Bullworth Academy by his mother and step-dad, Jimmy begins the school year by meeting the various "cliques" that roam this unusual boarding school.

The player will have to attend different classes, as well as explore the town of Bullworth and discover the activities and characters that will befriend and alienate him as the school year progresses.


Build an empire

The second PSP-exclusive GTA title arrived a year after Liberty City Stories, this time set two years before the events of Vice City —in 1984— and taking place in the same location, albeit with some notable differences as the city grows fueled by the violent power struggle in a lucrative drug trade that involves our protagonist Vic, brother to Lance Vance.

As a soldier, Vic Vance has always protected his dysfunctional family, his country and himself. One bad decision later and that job is about to get much harder. Kicked out onto the streets of a city torn between glamour and gluttony, Vic is faced with a stark choice — build an empire or be crushed.

Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories
Manhunt 2 Dixmor Asylum

One choice. One chance

Demented screams echo around the dank asylum that has caged you for the last six years. You open your eyes. A white-coated body slumps to the floor through your shaking hands. A bloody syringe slips from your arm. Waves of confusion and paranoia crash over you. You have no idea who you are or how you got here.

Manhunt 2 follows on the steps of its prequel, increasing the gore and psychological horror that made the franchise so controversial. This time developed by Rockstar Vienna and later Rockstar London, it was released for PS2, PSP and PC, with a Wii version releasing later on that took advantage of the console's motion controls to immerse the player into the brutality of the story.

Manhunt 2

The American dream

Grand Theft Auto IV marks GTA's jump into the 7th generation of consoles, showcasing a more mature presentation where the setting becomes the real protagonist.

Followed by two DLC expansions —The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony— it's the first Rockstar title to introduce three intertwined stories that take place during the same period and place — present-day Liberty City.

Meet Niko Bellic, fresh off the boat from Europe, Johnny Klebitz, a veteran member of The Lost biker gang, and Luis Lopez, hoodlum and assistant to legendary nightclub owner Tony Prince. Their lives cross paths with devastating consequences as they fight to survive in a city torn apart by violence and corruption.

Niko Bellic Johnny Klebitz Luis Lopez

Become a member

The Rockstar Social Club followed the launch of GTA IV as a platform for players to share and create content, backed by Rockstar and intended to expand its features with future titles such as Midnight Club L.A. and Red Dead Redemption. At launch, it was mainly used as a video sharing platform —called the Social Club TV— powered by GTA IV's video editor on PC, as well as being the main place to keep track of all official events and contests where Rockstar employees would play and interact with fans all over the world.

The Social Club kept expanding with features, eventually introducing ways to compare your game stats with friends, progress tracking and Multiplayer Crews, among others.

The Social Club also included mini games such as Mr Wong's Laundromat. Rockstar Games Social Club

No track, no rules

Join the Midnight Club once again, this time featuring a stunning recreation of modern-day Los Angeles. With a hot range of real-world tuners, muscle cars, exotics and superbikes to customize with the greatest depth of any racing game to date. Illegal street racing with no track, no load times and no rules.

Developed once again by Rockstar San Diego, this title was exclusive to 7th generation consoles and received an array of DLC and expansions, including new cars and an extended map. A PSP edition called Midnight Club: L.A. Remix —which features portions of Los Angeles and Tokyo— released the same month and was developed by Rockstar London.

Midnight Club Los Angeles

More money, more guns

The first GTA to arrive to Nintendo DS —and later PSP— Chinatown Wars is set in present-day Liberty City, and follows the story of Triad member Huang Lee who returns to the city to deliver a family heirloom won by his recently murdered father.

The game offers unique interactions to players using the touch-screen controls, and presents new features not seen in other entries of the franchise such as a drug-dealing minigame. The title marked the final appearance of GTA in portable devices.

Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars

Make music

In 2001, Rockstar Games in collaboration with OHHLA released a tool for aspiring rappers called Rhymerator, built for the web using Adobe Flash. It provided rhymes and metaphors based on the user's input and included a library of beats to help put the words to music. Inspired by this idea, Beaterator was born.

Beaterator puts a world-class mixer at your fingertips — enabling easy, powerful, and innovative creation. Featuring original music and a sound-kit which includes thousands of loops and sounds produced by Rockstar and multi-platinum producer and entertainer Timbaland. Developed by Rockstar Leeds and released for PSP and iOS.

Rockstar Games and Timbaland present Beaterator

Outlaws to the end

A spiritual sequel to Red Dead Revolver following former outlaw John Marston across the sprawling expanses of the American West and Mexico. Set in 1911, federal agents force Marston to hunt down the gang of criminals he once called friends in order to reunite with his family.

Development started shortly after the release of Red Dead Revolver, aiming to expand on the wild west theme and focus on a story-driven game with grounded characters and a strong narrative.

The game was announced at Sony's 2005 E3 as "Old West Project". Red Dead Redemption

Los Angeles, 1947

Developed by Team Bondi in collaboration with Rockstar, L.A. Noire is set amid the post-war boom of Hollywood's Golden Age where Cole Phelps, an LAPD detective is thrown headfirst into a city drowning in its own success.

Development started in 2004 as a Sony exclusive, but soon the IP was acquired by Rockstar who saw potential in the idea of using the MotionScan technology to read actor's faces as the foundation for some of the key gameplay mechanics.

The game released on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, with a Switch port coming years later. A Virtual Reality version of the game was released in 2017 and features some of the main story cases from a completely new perspective.

Team Bondi closed down shortly after the release of L.A. Noire. L.A. Noire

Dark hero reborn

After a 10-year wait, Max Payne returns. No longer a cop, close to washed up, and addicted to pain killers, he takes a job in São Paulo, Brazil, protecting the family of wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco in an effort to finally escape his troubled past.

Developed entirely by Rockstar for the first time in the series, Max Payne 3 is not a direct sequel to the previous entries but acts as a new chapter on Max's life, leaving behind the setting and characters of previous games. Remedy served as consultants for Rockstar when the game reached its final stage of development.

The game also introduces a multiplayer mode, featuring Shootdodge and Bullet Time technologies for innovative competitive gameplay styles.

Max Payne 3

Welcome to Los Santos

Grand Theft Auto V started development in 2008 after wrapping up GTA IV and its expansions, where the idea of three playable characters had been introduced. This concept was then expanded into a seamless gameplay mechanic never seen before, which allows players to switch control between retired bank robber Michael De Santa, street hustler Franklin Clinton and drug dealer Trevor Philips across Los Santos and Blaine County at any point. They must pull off a series of dangerous heists to survive in a ruthless city in which they can trust nobody — least of all each other.

The game represents a leap forward in player freedom, storytelling and technology, including previous features from older titles and expanding with new activities, side missions and customization to create the ultimate GTA experience.

GTA V reached $1 billion in sales within three days and $8 billion as of 2023. Michael De Santa Trevor Philips Franklin Clinton

An ever-evolving world

Experience GTA Online, a dynamic and ever-evolving online universe for up to 30 players, where you can rise from street-level hustler to become a kingpin of your own criminal empire.

Taking the formula that made the franchise unique in the first place, GTA Online expands into the idea of becoming a succesful criminal in Los Santos and beyond, only this time you'll be joining friends and strangers to partner up with or fight against, in a world that is constantly adding new content, features and possibilities.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Outlaws for life

America, 1899. The end of the Wild West era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee as federal agents and bounty hunters follow their trace.

Acting as a prequel to John Marston's story, Red Dead Redemption II is a collection of stories about the decline of a way of life, as a small gang of outlaws tries ever harder to outrun the inexorable advance of American modernity. It is unequivocally the most well-crafted and fully realized open world in video games to date, and raised the bar for both Rockstar and the gaming industry as a whole.

Red Dead Redemption II

Join the American West

Red Dead Online is the multiplayer component of Red Dead Redemption II. Following the steps of GTA Online, it aims to create an expanding, interactive world for players to explore and progress through, adding several new systems atop the single-player mode's gameplay.

Forge your own path as you battle lawmen, outlaw gangs and ferocious wild animals to build a life on the American frontier. Build a camp, ride solo or form a posse and explore everything from the snowy mountains in the North to the swamps of the South, from remote outposts to busy farms and bustling towns.

Red Dead Online
Rockstar Games 25th Anniversary

Thank you

It's hard to put into words the massive influence Rockstar has had over millions of fans. Their games have impacted our taste for music and film, sense of humor and even fashion style. It's a rare occasion when a company develops such a huge, dedicated fan base that continues flourishing after 25 years.

As I write these lines, the reveal of the next GTA title is just a few days away. We're all excited to see what comes next, eager to enjoy new groundbreaking experiences and continue sharing our passion for video games.

Your legacy has been immense.