After spending much of the past 17 months on sabbatical, Rockstar North's President Leslie Benzies has quit the video game studio for good.

This is no rumor as the news comes straight from the horse's mouth, Rockstar North itself. A representative for the company confirmed to Kotaku on Tuesday, Jan. 12, that Benzies had called it a day. The company also let on that Benzies had been on a break since 2014.

"We can confirm that Leslie Benzies went on sabbatical on Sept. 1, 2014 and has decided not to return to work for the company. We are very grateful for Leslie's contributions to Rockstar over the last 15 years as we worked together to make some amazing games," said Rockstar.

The company also thanked the Scotland-based Benzies for helping in the creation of an "incredible team," which would continue to bring great games fans' way even after Benzies' departure. While the company would miss his presence, it wishes Benzies the best for his future endeavors.

For the uninitiated, Benzies produced Red Dead Redemption and was also the lead developer for the multi-million selling Grand Theft Auto games since Grand Theft Auto III. In a career spanning 15 years, the studio veteran also produced well-received titles such as Max Payne 3, LA Noire and Manhunt 2.

When Benzies started his career, Rockstar North was called DMA Designs and he was deeply involved in nearly all of the studio's projects.

In 2014, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences inducted Benzies, as well as the founders of Rockstar, Dan Houser and Sam Houser, to its Hall of Fame.

The reasons behind Benzies' departure from Rockstar North are unknown. It is speculated that the ideological differences between him and the studio surrounding the development of Grand Theft Auto VI may have been the catalyst.

In October 2013, a few weeks after the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, Benzies let on that the studio had "some ideas" for the next title in the series. His statement hinted at a fallout between him and the studio as he stepped away from the company for a sabbatical, probably to think things through.

Benzies has stayed mum on his exit from the company and his future plans are not known, but he could be immersing himself in philanthropy. Before he went on sabbatical in 2014, Benzies made a deal to buy St. Stephen's Church in Edinburgh, located half a mile from his home, when it faced closure. According to reports, Benzies wanted to preserve the church and retain it for community use.

Rockstar North will now be managed by Rob Nelson and Aaron Garbut.

Photo: GTA Rockstar Fan | Flickr

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