Ex-Rockstar executive Leslie Benzies is suing the studio’s parent company Take-Two Interactive for $150 million.
First reported by GamesIndustry.biz, Benzies’ legal team cites “numerous deceptions” from Take-Two and the Houser brothers toward the end of his tenure, alleging that the story relating to his departure from the Grand Theft Auto studio was fabricated.
It’s understood that Benzies took a sabbatical from developer Rockstar North in September of 2014, only for the company to release a statement revealing that he failed to return four months later. But according to Benzies’ lawsuit filed against Take-Two, Sam and Dan Houser attempted to force him out of the company, before unjustly terminating close to $150 million in royalty payments that stretch back to 2009.
The official statement from Leslie Benzies’ legal team reads as so:
“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.”
In response, Rockstar and Take-Two have accused the former employee of poor conduct, and the latest update reveals both parties “have sought unsuccessfully to resolve this issue through mediation and now seek judicial clarification that would resolve this controversy.”
Details of the counter-suit can be found here, while Rockstar’s sole, comprehensive statement can be found below:
“Leslie Benzies was a valued employee of our company for many years,” the company says in an emailed statement . “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.”
We’ll continue to keep you updated as this story develops. But what do you make of Benzies and Take-Two’s legal spat?