Head of studio on sabbatical
Grand theft gamer Benzies opts to leave Rockstar
One of Scotland’s top games producers has decided to leave the Bafta-winning company that created Grand Theft Auto.
Rockstar North has confirmed that the reclusive Leslie Benzies has been on sabbatical since September 2014.
The company was co-founded by Sam and Dan Houser and originally called DMA Design. Mr Benzies joined in 1999 and was producer, and latterly studio head, for all the Grand Theft Auto games from GTA III onwards. Other titles he produced included Red Dead Redemption, Manhunt 2, LA Noire and Max Payne 3.
In a statement, the company said: “We can confirm that Leslie Benzies went on sabbatical on September 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.
“Leslie helped us build an incredible team that will continue to create great experiences for our fans. Leslie will always be a friend to the company and of course we are going to miss him but we wish him the absolute best for the future.”
Rockstar North, now based in the former offices of The Scotsman newspaper in Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, will now be run by two heads. They are Rob Nelson, who was animation director on GTA V and recently joined the company after moving from Rockstar’s New York headquarters, and Aaron Garbut who will also continue in his role as the studio’s art director.
Rockstar Games was awarded the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship award in March 2014, along with the Housers.
GTA V was the fastest-selling entertainment product in history, earning more than $1 billion in the first three days after its release in September 2013.
In 2014, Mr Benzies paid a reported £500,000 to acquire Edinburgh’s A-listed St Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge to save it for the community.