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Former Rockstar boss sues firm for $150m

BBC News BBC News 13/04/2016

One of the driving forces behind video game series Grand Theft Auto is suing its developers for $150m (£105.62m).

Leslie Benzies, a former president of Edinburgh-based game developers Rockstar North, is claiming unpaid royalties in a US court.

Aberdeen-born Mr Benzies, 45, claims he was effectively forced out of the company last year.

Rockstar, which is controlled by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc, said his claims were "entirely without merit".

Much of the Grand Theft Auto series has been developed in Scotland.

'Numerous deceptions'

In a statement, Mr Benzies' lawyers, Locke Lord, claimed Mr Benzies was removed from Rockstar after being "enticed" by the company to take a sabbatical in 2014.

It also claimed that while he was on sabbatical, Mr. Benzies discovered "numerous deceptions" on the part of Take-Two, Rockstar, Rockstar North Ltd, and Rockstar Games co-founders Sam and Dan Houser.

The lawsuit alleges that they "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 further alleges that when Mr Benzies attempted to resume his duties after ending his sabbatical on 1 April last year, he "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."

The statement added: "Mr. Benzies has spent the bulk of his life in the video game industry, and looks forward to reaching a fair settlement so he can continue creating great entertainment software in a respectful environment that truly values the work of game developers."

'Claims without merit'

In a statement Rockstar said: "Leslie Benzies was a valued employee of our company for many years.

"Sadly, the events that culminated in his resignation ultimately stem from his significant performance and conduct issues.

"Despite our repeated efforts to address and resolve these issues amicably both before and after his departure, Leslie has chosen to take this route in an attempt to set aside contract terms to which he previously agreed on multiple occasions.

"His claims are entirely without merit and in many instances downright bizarre, and we are very confident this matter will be resolved in our favour.

"A core ethos since Rockstar's inception has been the concept of 'the team'.

"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.

"We do not intend to comment further on this matter."

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