When former Rockstar North president Leslies Benzies split with the studio in early 2016 it was surprising but seemed amicable enough, at least until he filed suit for $150 million a few months later. We haven't heard much about him since, but today he announced that he's heading up development of a new game with a working title of Everywhere, which will be powered by Amazon's Lumberyard engine.
"I am proud to have been part of past advancements in gaming, but I am even more excited about what we have in store for the future," Benzies said. "The working title of the new game is Everywhere and the vision is long term, with the capacity to develop and grow forever. Our goal is to create a platform where players can be entertained, and also entertain others while blurring the lines between reality, and a simulated world."
That's awfully vague, but the announcement suggests pretty strongly that it will be an online experience of some kind, presumably multiplayer, and possibly massively so. Lumberyard, you'll recall, is the engine that Cloud Imperium Games moved Star Citizen to at the end of 2016, and Benzies, like CIG, said it enables features and gameplay that simply aren't available elsewhere.
"Amazon's technologies and cloud services provide us the power and flexibility to create a new type of game that was never before possible for today's massive gaming communities," Benzies said. "Lumberyard's client and cloud features free us up to focus on the innovative, creative elements of our game."
Joining him at the new studio, which also doesn't have a proper name yet, are two other ex-Rockstars: Colin Entwistle, formerly the lead programmer at Rockstar North, and Matthew Smith, the studio's former audio director. Their combined credits include just about everything Rockstar has done in the past decade-and-a-half, from Grand Theft Auto 3 through Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online, with stops for Manhunt, Max Payne 3, Red Dead Redemption, and LA Noire.
There's a website up at everywhere.game, although it doesn't have much more to say about what's going on than Benzies did. It describes Eveywhere as "a videogame that simulates and fuses the real world with the virtual. Live your own stories as you live in ours." Even so, his work with Rockstar speaks for itself, and the presence of other top Rockstar North talent is encouraging too. Whatever they're up to, it will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.