Leslie Benzies, the former President of Rockstar North, is suing his ex-employer for $150 million in unpaid royalties. Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games have filed a counter-suit against Benzies, citing a "breach of contract."
Benzies, a 15 year Rockstar veteran, has worked on almost every 3D GTA game ever made, which makes his sour exit from the company all the more surprising.
Grand Theft Salary
In September 2014 the ex-president went on a year long sabbatical but never returned to his post in earnest. A statement provided by his lawyer, Christopher Bakes, reads:
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.
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick stated that Benzies: "decided not to return to Rockstar Games." However, Benzies says there was no choice in the matter: He was forced out. His lawyer's statement continues:
After being let inside by building security, Mr. Benzies was then ordered to leave by the Rockstar North office manager without reason.
Rockstar maintain that Benzies left on his volition, dismissing his allegations as "downright bizarre."
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.
$150 million might sound like an astronomical sum of money, but it's not as if Rockstar is strapped for cash. It was recently revealed that GTA Online has generated "at least" $500 million in revenue from microtransactions alone.
We'll keep you updated as the case develops.