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Amid Litigation with Former Employer Rockstar, Leslie Benzies Forms New Studio - Two Left Sticks
Leslie Benzies

Amid Litigation with Former Employer Rockstar, Leslie Benzies Forms New Studio

Former Rockstar North boss Leslie Benzies is quietly preparing his new ventures.  Reported by the Scotsman, Benzies has formed the new game development studio Royal Circus Games, and a VR firm called VR Chitect Limited.  Benzies hasn’t made a formal announcement regarding these studios, but it shows that he isn’t planning on staying quiet within the games industry.

The formation of these companies by Benzies comes at an interesting time since his lawsuit with Rockstar/Take Two is still ongoing. Reported in January 2016 was the news that Benzies had suddenly left his position at Rockstar. This sent shockwaves throughout the games industry since Benzies was a twenty-year+ veteran. However, Benzies later filed a lawsuit in April 2016 which painted a different picture.

TROUBLE AT ROCKSTAR

According to legal documents filed, the Housers, co-founders of Rockstar, kicked Benzies out after a sabbatical post the release of GTAV.  On top of that, Benzies also claims he has been denied game royalties in the sum of $150 million.  Besides the financial element of the situation, Benzies provided email exchanges which painted the Housers as less than capable leaders.  This led to questions of how Rockstar would move forward without Benzies at the helm of productions such as Red Dead Redemption 2.

There’s no denying the impact Benzies had on Rockstar Games and the contributions he made.  Serving as Producer, and even Writer, on many of Rockstar’s projects, Benzies had made a lasting impact on the studio. Benzies was also responsible for the push of GTA Online which has made a profit of $500 million.

A NEW WORLD AWAITS

What’s interesting now is how Benzies will proceed within the games industry since he isn’t content to simply retire.  The gears are already in motion, but what exactly will Benzies opt to develop?  Filed amongst the corporate entities was the title “Time For A New World”. A bit enigmatic, the title at least shows that Benzies has a concept in place for a new project.

Questions still remain whether Benzies will continue developing open-world games, a rather costly venture, or do something entirely different. It’s too early to postulate, but it should be interesting if a bidding war erupts over Benzies.  Unless he prefers independence, publishers may be keen to pick up what Benzies is working on given his prestige.  One has to wonder if Sony or Microsoft will take a look at Benzies’ new project, and potentially risk the relationships with Rockstar/Take Two considering their sometimes petty reactions.

Whatever happens, it’s nice to see that The Benz is still staying in the games industry.

Ian Fisher
A Chicago native, I'm a six year veteran of the game press industry with a deep passion for smaller indie games and all things Sony.

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