Here’s an interesting story for you today. One of the key figures in Rockstar Games who helped make Grand Theft Auto what it is today, is suing the publisher Take-Two Interactive for unpaid royalties and for terminating his contract while on sabbatical. He is seeking $150 million.
The last we heard of the issue, was that Leslie Benzies had taken an 18 month sabbatical around September of 2013, roughly when Grand Theft Auto V was releasing. Rockstar later confirmed in January that he wasn’t coming back, and we worried briefly before placing our trust in Rockstar Games once again about the future of the series and their other IP.
Now it seems that Benzies’ departure from Rockstar wasn’t his own choice, according to a statement by his legal team. He claims that he returned from his sabbatical to find that his office key was disabled, and was escorted out of the office by security.
“After being let inside by building security, Mr. Benzies was then ordered to leave by the Rockstar North office manager without reason,” Christopher Bakes of the legal team said of this humiliating incident.
“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,” said Christopher Bakes of Locke Lord LLP in a statement on the matter.
Rockstar have since responded to these claims and in a lengthy statement said:
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 favour.
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.
We will keep you updated with the goings on, but one thing is for sure, the rockstar lifestyle and drama does indeed exist in the world of video games, and we’re curious to know which side is telling the truth in this matter.