In a former casino on the outskirts of Edinburgh, ex-Grand Theft Auto producer Leslie Benzies is readying his next big gamble: a creation-fuelled game platform with blockbuster experiences built in. It’s called Everywhere, and seems almost too ambitious; a constructed attempt to beat the likes of Fortnite and Roblox at their own game, with the horsepower of big budget game development under its hood.
The stakes are high. Everywhere is the long-awaited debut from Build a Rocket Boy, the company Benzies set up six years ago after his acrimonious exit from Rockstar, and the project he and other GTA veterans have been quietly building ever since. Fuelled by investment from NetEase, Build a Rocket Boy now has more than 400 staff building various bits of Everywhere, housed in multiple sites across Edinburgh, Budapest, Montpellier and in China. The current plan is to have Everywhere publicly playable at some point later this year.
You may remember Everywhere from its rather nebulous unveiling at Gamescom last year – when it was teased via a brief trailer that did little to explain what it actually was. Following that, rumours swirled suggesting it would contain cryptocurrency and NFTs – something Benzies and his team now flatly denies. So what exactly is Everywhere? After a day inside the studio, I still have questions. Lots and lots of questions. But they are different questions now – more hopeful ones, I think – than those I went in there with.