GTA Producer Leslie Benzies Sues Take-Two And Rockstar Games For $150 Million
Rockstar announced in January that Leslie Benzies, one of the brains behind the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto (GTA) games, "decided not to return to the company" after taking a sabbatical for several months.
Benzies, however, denied that he voluntarily exited the company. Instead, he said, he was "enticed by Rockstar" to take a leave of absence after he reportedly discovered "numerous deceptions."
As an attempt to isolate him, Benzies claimed, Rockstar deactivated his facilities access device. He was then asked to leave the premises without any reason.
Benzies and his Rockstar co-founders, Dan and Sam Houser, partnered with the studio's parent company, Take-Two Interactive, in December 2008. Benzies' legal team claims that their client was booted out of this partnership after the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, and was denied royalty payments amounting to $150 million.
Rockstar and Take-Two have fired back with a countersuit for the former employee's breach of contract, and accused him of "performance and conduct issues."
Rockstar argued that Benzies has "no right to contest the royalty allocation" under the clause of the existing contract. He would have to go through the Allocation Committee to request royalty acquisition.
"Sam Houser would have the sole authority to determine what, if any, royalty percentage should be allocated to Benzies," the lawsuit states.
Rockstar, however, disclosed that the company has attempted to amicably resolve the issue with Benzies, but the former employee had chosen a different route, it said.
"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," Rockstar added.
GTA, which is the subject of the royalty dispute, has sold more than 600 million copies to retailers. GTA is regarded as "the fastest-selling entertainment product ever" generating over $2 billion in revenues since its release.