GTA producer sues publisher for $150 million in unpaid royalties

Former president of Rockstar North and Grand Theft Auto producer Leslie Benzies filed a lawsuit against GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive for $150 million in unpaid royalties after being forced out in the company last year.

The producer said he was enticed to take a sabbatical in September 2014 and added that Sam Houser, Dan Houser, Rockstar, Rockstar North Ltd and Take-Two Interactive joined forces in planning to take him out in the company while he was not there.

After six months, Benzies returned to the company only to find out that his access had been revoked. Upon being escorted inside by the building security, he was then ordered to leave by the Rockstar North office manager without saying any reason.

According to Theguardian, a press release issued by law firm Locke Lord states:

“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.

“As the lawsuit describes, based upon agreements in place, as one of three named Rockstar Principals, Mr Benzies is owed in excess of $150m in unpaid royalties.”

Take-Two Interactive made their move by filing a counter suit, stating that Leslie Benzies left the company in his own will and that he was not entitled to any post-termination payments.

Theguardian reported the side of Christopher Bakes of Locke Lord, who was the chief litigator of Benzies’ case, regarding the counter file suit of Take-Two. He said:

“The short answer is that we believe the detailed and extensive factual allegations contained in Mr. Benzies’ Complaint amply address those contained in the somewhat sparse Take-Two Complaint. Needless to say, Mr. Benzies believes the issues between the parties are far broader than as presented by Take-Two and Mr. Benzies’ Complaint reflects that.”

Les Benzies started at Rockstar North working on Space Station Silicon Valley, but after that he assembled the team that created the first Grand Theft Auto game which spawned a franchise that is not Take-Two’s top earner. Considered a key member of the GTA creative team for almost two decades, Benzies was a producer on the series since the hugely successful GTA 3 in 2001, and worked on Manhunt 2, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire and Max Payne 3.

Photo courtesy: Dennis Lamers/Wikimedia

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