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In the run-up to the official Grand Theft Auto 6 reveal, Rockstar may have lost one of its most senior writers

 Michael Unsworth accepts the Best Narrative award on behalf of Rockstar Games at The Game Awards 2018
Michael Unsworth accepts the Best Narrative award on behalf of Rockstar Games at The Game Awards 2018

It looks like Michael Unsworth, Rockstar's vice president of writing, may have quietly left the company after a lengthy career that began in 2007. Unsworth's apparent departure came to light through his LinkedIn page, which indicates that he left Rockstar sometime earlier this year.

"Mike is an accomplished writer who spent over 16 years working for Rockstar Games as a creative lead on some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful video game franchises of all time, most notably Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption," the page states. "He has a deep understanding of interactive storytelling, character development and open world game design and extensive experience building and managing creative teams."

More tellingly, it says he was vice president of writing from 2021 to 2023, rather than 2021 to present as it normally does for people who are actively employed, indicating that his time in that role has come to an end.

Unsworth joined Rockstar in 2007 as senior creative writer, a position he held until 2019. He began by writing dialog for Midnight Club: Los Angeles and then "pedestrian dialog"—surely a reference to the NPCs, and not the quality—for Grand Theft Auto 4. He then co-wrote Red Dead Redemption with Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser and Christian Cantamessa, wrote more dialog for LA Noire, Max Payne 3, and GTA 5, and then co-wrote Red Dead Redemption 2 with Houser and Rupert Humphries. He became writing director that year, and then moved up to the vice president of writing position in 2021.

Unsworth's seeming departure from Rockstar has caused a little bit of consternation among some Rockstar fans, who worry that the loss of one of the studio's top writers bodes ill for Grand Theft Auto 6—especially when it's compounded by the absence of other top-tier Rockstar veterans including Leslie Benzies, who left in 2016, and Dan Houser, who followed in 2020.

Others are guessing his absence will likely have little impact on the development of the game, since most of the dialog is presumably already complete, and a few go so far as to say that change is inevitable and after five GTAs in the bag, some fresh blood at the top might be a good thing.

Unsworth accepted the Best Narrative award on behalf of Rockstar Games for Red Dead Redemption 2 at The Game Awards 2018.

Unsworth's departure from Rockstar is not actually confirmed, and aside from his LinkedIn bio, there's no indication that anything has changed. It's possible that he's simply moving to a new role at Rockstar; it's possible that something's just gone a little wonky with his LinkedIn page, and nothing has actually changed at all.

Oddly, Rockstar declined to comment on Unsworth's status one way or another. I've reached out to Unsworth himself for more information, and will update if I receive a reply.