The president of Rockstar North, Leslie Benzies, who was best known for being the lead developer of the ‘Grand Theft Auto’ game series, has resigned from the studio after 17 years. He had not only developed the GTA series (from GTA 3 onwards), but also on other games including Red Dead Redemption, LA Noire, Manhunt and Max Payne 3. Benzies was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2014, alongside Rockstar Games founders Sam and Dan Houser.
According to the company, Benzies had been on sabbatical following the launch of ‘Grand Theft Auto V’, and the date of his leave was on 1st September 2014. Although Rockstar North will still be continuing along as usual, Benzies will no longer return to the studio.
“We can confirm that Leslie Benzies went on sabbatical on September 1, 2014 and has decided not to return to work for the company. We are very grateful for Leslie’s contributions to Rockstar over the last 15 years as we worked together to make some amazing games,” said Rockstar in an official statement in Kotaku.
“Leslie helped us build an incredible team that will continue to create great experiences for our fans. Leslie will always be a friend to the company and of course we are going to miss him but we wish him the absolute best for the future.”
Benzies joined Rockstar North when it was still called DMA Design back in 1999. He worked as a programmer on a Nintendo 64 title called ‘Space Station Silicon Valley’ and moved on to the GTA series after it was shipped.
Rockstar North is currently led by its longtime art directors Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson. The future of the studio without Benzies may be uncertain, but hopefully they can still develop good games as they always do.