Rockstar Games has sent a shot across the bow in response to former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies’ lawsuit against the studio. Benzies is suing the Grand Theft Auto studio and its parent company Take-Two for $150 million.
Rockstar Games maintains that the lawsuit is “entirely without merit and in many instances downright bizarre.”
“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.”
Benzies served as the lead producer and creative director of the Grand Theft Auto series since 1999 when the studio started working on Grand Theft Auto III, the first game in the series to bring the company into the public’s eye. He also served as the president of Rockstar North, the UK-based studio that was responsible for most of the series’ development.
In his lawsuit, Benzies claims that an unfair dismissal led to the loss of $150m in royalties. Take-Two Interactive counters that Benzies was not fired, and simply chose to leave.
The bulk of Benzies’ court filing can be read online. There’s a lot of dirt in there. Details like these stand out:
“This was a shocking development given that Sam Houser himself had orchestrated and encouraged a company culture involving strip clubs, personal photography of employees in sexually compromising positions, and other conduct grossly in violation of standard workplace norms.”
Regardless of whether any of this is true, the lawsuit is only going to get more heated in the days and weeks to come.