Leslie Benzies — the former Rockstar North and Grand Theft Auto boss whose unceremonious departure from that company resulted in an ongoing lawsuit last year — is back in the news, but this time for his new project instead of his past projects. “Everywhere” is the working title for Benzies’ new game, a new video game built on Amazon’s Lumberyard
“The working title of this new game is ‘Everywhere’ and the vision is long term, with the capacity to develop and grow forever,” Benzies said in a press release. “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.”
Benzies was credited as director of Grand Theft Auto Online, the ambitious (and hugely lucrative!) online component of Grand Theft Auto 5. “The Houser brothers had little interest in GTA Online, and did not focus on its development,” Benzies claimed in the lawsuit. That focus on game as service appears to be in play with Everywhere.
This kind of platform-scale ambition is seemingly enabled through the studios use of Lumberyard, Amazon’s “AAA game engine deeply integrated with Amazon Web Services (AWS), including Amazon GameLift and Twitch.” That quote is from the very first paragraph of the press release, highlighting the importance the new studio is placing on its technology choice.
“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 says. “Lumberyard’s client and cloud features free us up to focus on the innovative, creative elements of our game.”
Amazon announced the free-to-use Lumberyard last February. While the engine has no requirement to share revenue, unlike other engines like Unreal, Amazon hopes to profit from the online features like GameLift and AWS. As far as Amazon’s bona fides in the game engine space, Lumberyard is built on top of CryEngine, an engine renowned for its graphical fidelity. Just last month, the studio behind crowdfunding darling Star Citizen announced it was shifting development from CryEngine to Lumberyard.
Joining Benzies on this project are Matthew Smith and Colin Entwistle. All three are former employees of Edinburgh-based Rockstar North, having worked on projects together from Red Dead Redemption to L.A. Noire and ultimately Grand Theft Auto 5 and the separately billed Grand Theft Auto Online.
While the new studio has yet to be named, The Scotsman turned up a handful of incorporations via the UK’s Companies House. Included in that list is Everywhere Game Limited, Royal Circus (and Royal Circus Games / Royal Circus Technologies) Limited and VR-chitech Limited. We’ve reached out to Benzies’ publicist for comment on the filings. Regardless of what it’s called, the group will operate out of Edinburgh and Los Angeles and are “in the process of building new game design and development studios, headed up” by Smith and Entwistle.
Correction: We removed a reference to Unity requiring a revenue share. “Unity does not charge on a per title basis and you do not pay royalties or pay revenue share, even for games and applications made with the free version,” the engine company states. However, a “commercial entity with annual gross revenues (based on fiscal year) in excess of US$100,000” can’t use the free version, and will instead need to use the Plus or Pro versions.