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Take-Two/Leslie Benzies Lawsuit Reveals GTA 5 Financials, Red Dead Redemption Development Details

Benzies' legal team works to demonstrate his importance while at Rockstar by citing leadership qualities and profits earned during his tenure.


UPDATE [3:22 pm Pacific]

Perhaps to counter information being made public in its countersuit against former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies, Rockstar Games has issued a public statement on the case.

"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 favor. 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."

Original story follows

Drama continues to unfold between Take-Two and former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies. Earlier today, we learned Benzies returned to work on April 1 rejuvenated from a lengthy sabbatical, only to find his clearance revoked and a security team ready to evict him from the premises.

April Fools? Not even a little bit. Take-Two claimed Benzies opted not to return to his job, but Benzies says otherwise: he's suing Rockstar and Take-Two for $150 million in unpaid royalties, citing "deceptions" and "arbitrary actions." Rockstar countersued on the basis of breach of contract.

As details of the suit come to light, fans are being made privy to facts related to development and earnings. According to the lawsuit (per GameSpot), GTA Online, the online component of GTA 5, has grossed "at least" $500 million. GameSpot offers a factoid to put those earnings in perspective: to date, transactions from Halo 5: Guardians have earned $1.5 million.

"GTA Online has the potential to achieve the greatest profit margin of any game created in the GTA franchise," per the lawsuit. What's more, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick described GTA Online as "the gift that keeps on giving," referring to the money it brings in from microtransactions, which constitute "nearly 100 percent profit margin" minus development costs and a cut of the earnings taken from storefronts.

The lawsuit also divulges information on Red Dead Redemption's troubling development cycle. Red Dead Redemption was created under the auspices of Rockstar co-founders Sam and Dan Houser, at the company's San Diego location. According to a line from the lawsuit (per GameSpot), "As Sam Houser himself recognized, the Houser brothers were incapable of completing large and complex games without Mr. Benzies' oversight, management, and skill in taking unwieldy designs and making an understandable, cohesive, and enjoyable game."

That statement seems to speak conclusively to the positive effects of Benzies' leadership at the company. Just to be sure, his legal team recounted emails sent from Sam Houser to Leslie Benzies in October of 2009, asking Benzies for his help shoring up what he referred to as "a (recurring) nightmare." In the same missive, Houser asked Benzies to "PLEASE help me/us get [Read Dead Redemption] into shape. I am a jabbering wreck right now. I need The Benz!"

Red Dead Redemption became a critical and commercial success upon its release in May 2010, selling approximately 13 million copies.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

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