It seems like Take-Two Interactive is in the news these days more times than not for something legal related. In this case, a former top employee of the Scotland-based Rockstar North named Leslie Benzies is suing Take-Two for $150 million in what he claims to be unpaid royalties.
Gamespot has a very lengthy article about the whole legal shenanigans involving Benzies and Take-Two, which started back in 2014 when Benzies supposedly went on a sabbatical for 14 months. When he returned to the Rockstar North offices he found that he was unable to enter into the building and that his access had been revoked.
The studio responsible for hits like GTA V and Red Dead Redemption no longer allowed Benzies into the building, despite the fact that he was one of the top employees with prestige, alongside Dan and Sam Houser, the two brothers who worked on countless smash-hit successes for Rockstar.
Benzies entered into mediation with Take-Two after he claimed that he was still owed royalties, presumably from GTA V. According to Take-Two, they paid Benzies his last piece of royalties on April 28th, 2014, a year prior to his employment termination.
The Gamespot article doesn't go into any detail about how much Take-Two paid Benzies in his final royalty payment, but apparently the former Rockstar employee didn't feel as if it was enough, and decided that the company breached the mediation process by issuing a press release about his departure from the company. Though oddly, after April 2nd, 2014 – a day after he was reportedly kicked out of the Rockstar – Benzies had reportedly handed in his resignation, quitting from Rockstar while requesting royalties.
Benzies claims that he was terminated without good cause, so he was quitting. According to Take-Two, they don't feel he's entitled to anymore than what he's been paid based on the conditions of his employment termination.
It's kind of a bizarre story that has some people scratching their heads. While GTA V was obviously big money, someone who took a 14-month sabbatical coming back and demanding $150 million in royalties seems absurdly excessive, especially considering that it's nearly two-thirds of the entire budget of GTA V. That's not to mention that one royalty payment to Benzies in the amount of $150 million could fund 15 different projects in size and quality to the original Gears of War.
Others found it odd that after leaving the company for 14 months why he should still be employed? The conditions and terms of the sabbatical weren't really clarified, and the amount being requested by Benzies seems exceptionally high. They don't exactly explain what made Benzies so valuable to Rockstar, but it was hinted at that he might poach some of Rockstar's talent for his own project if he decides to do so. Perhaps the $150 million is to fund his own open-world adventure project?
Despite the length of the Gamespot article, there are scant details explained about some of the more mysterious aspects of the case. For now, Rockstar North have appointed veterans Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson to take over the role Leslie Benzies once held.