Mobile Gaming Pioneer Gordon Hall Dies At 51

Gordon Hall was founder of video game studio Rockstar Leeds and developer of some of the top-rated games in the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto franchise

Gordon Hall, founder of game studio Rockstar Leeds and developer of titles in the hugely successful Grand Theft Auto series, has died at 51.

Hall founded Möbius Entertainment in Leeds in 1997, focusing on productions for the GameBoy and GameBoy Advance handheld consoles.

After Möbius developed a handheld version of Max Payne, which was published by Rockstar Games, Rockstar parent Take Two acquired Möbius in 2004 and the studio became Rockstar Leeds.

The studio continued to focus on handheld devices with the PlayStation Portable system, including well-regarded spin-offs of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Gordon Hall
Image credit: Martyn Brown

Mobile development

These included Liberty City Stories, Vice City Stories and the highly acclaimed Chinatown Wars, released in 2008.

Hall was “instrumental” in the creation of Chinatown Wars, Rockstar said.

Grand Theft Auto, developed by Rockstar, is one of the top-selling games franchises of all time, with the handheld titles developed by Rockstar Leeds being amongst its best-received installations.

According to GameRankings, for instance, Chinatown Wars is the top-rated Nintendo DS game of all time, with a 93 percent average review score, with GameSpot also ranking the game as the top DS title ever.

Hall worked outside of Leeds at Rockstar’s San Diego studio for a time, helping to complete Red Dead Redemption, which shipped in 2010.

He remained president of Rockstar Leeds until his departure in 2012, when he departed for a research sabbatical focusing on player psychology and microtransactions strategy.

‘Pursuit of excellence’

He then served as chief creative officer for Activision Blizzard Mobile in 2013, joining Activision mobile subsidiary Blast Furnace in the same year.

Former colleague Martyn Brown, founder of Team17 and head of business development at Five Aces Publishing, called Hall “inspirational”.

“Gordon was simply brilliant to be around, incredibly motivating and ever-positive,” Brown said.

“His pursuit of excellence was staggering and he formed a great, trusting bond with those who chose to work (hard) alongside him. As a close friend, he was truly inspirational and socially speaking a real energetic one-off who could endlessly entertain at the drop of a hat, holding everyone in the palm of his hand.

“Gordon will be very sadly missed,” Brown said.

Rockstar Games said in a statement, “May he rest in peace, our condolences go out to his family and friends for their loss.”