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GTA producer suing Rockstar Games for $150 million

Rockstar has issued the statement below, describing Benzies’ claims as ‘downright bizarre’. Clearly they’re going to fight the lawsuit tooth and nail, so no matter who wins a lot of lawyers are going to get very rich from this…

Leslie Benzies was a valued employee of our company for many years. Sadly, the events that culminated in his resignation ultimately stem from his significant performance and conduct issues. Despite our repeated efforts to address and resolve these issues amicably both before and after his departure, Leslie has chosen to take this route in an attempt to set aside contract terms to which he previously agreed on multiple occasions. His claims are entirely without merit and in many instances downright bizarre, and we are very confident this matter will be resolved in our favor. A core ethos since Rockstar’s inception has been the concept of ‘the team’. It is deeply disappointing and simply wrong for Leslie to attempt to take personal credit for what has always been the tremendous efforts of the entire Rockstar team, who remain hard at work delivering the most immersive and engaging entertainment experiences we can for our fans.

We do not intend to comment further on this matter.

The former head of Rockstar North is claiming he was forced out of his job, in what sounds like a plot from one of the GTA games.

If you’re a hardcore GTA fan then you’ve probably heard of brothers Dan and Sam Houser, even though they’re rarely ever seen in public. That’s because Rockstar prefers not to put any of its game makers in the spotlight, or otherwise producer Leslie Benzies would be a household name amongst gamers.

He may yet gain that status though, as he is suing Rockstar Games owner Take-Two Interactive for $150 million (£105m) in unpaid royalties. He also alleges that the company tried to force him out of his job after he took a sabbatical in September 2014.

‘While on sabbatical, Mr Benzies discovered numerous deceptions on the part of Take-Two, Rockstar, Rockstar North Ltd, Sam Houser and Dan Houser, who sought to force him out of the company and terminate his portion of royalty payments based upon arbitrary actions by the company’s royalty Allocation Committee, a committee that may or may not have actually ever met,’ lawyers told website Polygon.

There’s also talk of ‘mounting resentment’ from Sam Houser, and Benzies trying to return to work on April 1 (of all days) last year but finding his security card had been deactivated.

Take-Two and Rockstar Games have filed a counter-suit against Benzies, claiming breach of contract, which suggests the whole business is about to get very messy.

Benzies has been the producer on all the GTA games since they went 3D, as well as Manhunt 2, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Max Payne 3. So his exit from the company must have been quite the upheaval.

The news of the lawsuit may also suggest an alternative reason as to why Rockstar hasn’t announced a new game since Grand Theft Auto V, which first came out in 2013.

Many are hoping to see something new revealed at E3 in June, perhaps the long rumoured Red Dead Redemption 2, but if the company’s undergoing internal strife it may be longer than that…

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