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Former ‘Grand Theft Auto’ Producer Sues Rockstar Games for Unpaid Royalties

Leslie Benzies claims he was unfairly ousted during a sabbatical in 2015, in a play to deprive him of his share of profits

Leslie Benzies, former president of the Rockstar North video game development studio responsible for the creation of the ever-popular “Grant Theft Auto” series, is suing Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, for $150 million in unpaid royalties from “Grand Theft Auto 5” and other games in the series.

A statement issued by Benzies’ attorneys says he was “enticed” into a sabbatical in April 2015, and when Benzies attempted to return to work, he discovered his credentials had been revoked.

Rockstar had a boilerplate statement about Benzies’ status that it had been issuing in response to inquiries as recently as this year that asserted that “Benzies went on sabbatical on September 1, 2014 and has decided not to return to work for the company.” Benzies’ suit takes issue with that statement, and views his alleged ouster as a play by Rockstar co-founders Dan and Sam Houser to cheat him out of royalties.

Benzies was classified as a “Rockstar Principal,” meaning he was eligible for royalties. Benzies claims that label grants him the rights to the same amount of compensation as the Houser brothers.

Take-Two has countersued in response, asserting that royalty payments are determined by a three-person “royalty committee” that “has exclusive and binding decision-making authority over royalty allocations. The suit claims that Benzies quit “without cause,” which it says would disqualify him for any royalty payments after the term of his employment ended.

The dispute has been in mediation for the past year.

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