Buckle up folks, it’s time for another thrilling legal story. This time, Leslie Benzies, (former head of Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar North) is suing Take-Two Interactive. Let’s break it down.
Benzies (who left the company earlier this year) claims that he is owed $150 million in royalties, and says he was forced out of the company. As you might expect, Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive don’t see it that way, and thus a legal battle is born. Ain’t it grand?
Polygon reports that these unpaid royalties are from Grand Theft Auto games throughout the years (those games make a fair bit of money, if you didn’t know). While on the sabbatical he never returned from, Benzies discovered “numerous deceptions” on the part of Take-Two, Rockstar, Rockstar North Ltd.
Apparently Benzies was listed as a “Rockstar Principal” putting him alongside Rockstar founders Sam and Dan Houser in terms of status, which is where some of the problems lie.
Benzies lawyer says:
This was the company’s way of rewarding Mr. Benzies by bringing him into the highest compensation tier. Having reached this height, Mr. Benzies’ removal after years of receiving compensation identical to the Housers was the product of what turned out to be a lengthy deception by Sam Houser.
So, please bear with me as I attempt to summarise a lengthy legal complaint for you. Benzies believes he is owed royalties, and was pushed into quitting. Rockstar maintain that Benzies quit of his own accord and is therefore not eligible for said royalties.
Naturally, Rockstar themselves have issued a statement hoping to clarify matters. They say that Benzies’ “significant performance and conduct issues” is what led to his eventual parting ways with the company, and that his claims are entirely without merit.
This is surely gonna be one to watch as the case unfolds (unless you couldn’t give a shit, in which case look away). Rockstar have been in stranger legal battles to be fair – they’re currently embroiled in an odd dispute with none other than Lindsay Lohan.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.