The lead designer of Grand Theft Auto is suing Rockstar and Take-Two for $150m.
Leslie Benzies has accused the US publishing giant and its Rockstar subsidiary of not paying him his royalties following the smash hit success of GTA V.
Meanwhile, Take-Two has filed a countersuit over a ‘breach of contract’.
Benzies goes further in his lawsuit of accusing Sam Houser, one of the heads of Rockstar, of a ‘lengthy deception’ caused by ‘mounting resentments after many years of high praise’.
Take-Two announced in January 2016 that, after taking a sabbatical, Benzies had decided not to return to Rockstar.
Benzies refutes this. A statement from his legal representatives reads: 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.”
It went on: During the lengthy mediation, as the complaint describes, Take-Two breached its mediation obligations by issuing an out-of-bounds and inaccurate press statement regarding his sabbatical and that he would not be coming back to work. In fact, when attempting to resume his duties upon conclusion of his sabbatical on April 1, 2015, Mr. Benzies found himself unable to enter the Rockstar North office because his facilities access device had been deactivated. After being let inside by building security, Mr. Benzies was then ordered to leave by the Rockstar North office manager without reason.”
Take-Two says that Benzies did resign from his position in April 2015, but didn’t offer good reason and thus breached his contract. The firm also denies forcing him from his position. The publisher also says that Sam Houser has full authority over how much Benzies may receive in royalties, if he receives any at all.
Grand Theft Auto V, released in September 2013, is the most successful video game of all time. Over 60m copies of the game have been shipped to retail.
The trio, alongside art director Aaron Garbut, accepted a BAFTA on behalf of Rockstar in April 2014.