Leslie Benzies is a Scottish video game producer who is best known for developing the successful Grand Theft Auto series starting in 2001. Benzies was also the president of Rockstar North.
He was born on born January 17, 1971, in Aberdeen, Scotland.
His father’s name was Leonard.
Leslie wrote and programmed his first game at age 11 after his father bought him a Dragon 32 (home computers that were built in the 1980s).
His professional career as a video game programmer began in 1995 at DMA Design (now Rockstar North Limited).
Benzies was the president of Rockstar North (a subsidiary of Rockstar Games), a developer of computer and video games located in Edinburgh. Rockstar Games has an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion.
Leslie resigned on January 12, 2016, following a 17-month sabbatical that he took following the release of Grand Theft Auto V in 2013.
On April 13, 2016, he launched legal action against Rockstar Games, claiming $150 million in unpaid royalties.
He said that all three parties worked together to force him out of Rockstar and terminate his royalty payments.
As evidence to back up the fact that he was forced out of Rockstar unlawfully after his sabbatical, Leslie submitted several e-mails between himself and Sam and Dan Houser.
Benzie also said that when he attempted to return to work in April 2015, he discovered that he had been locked out of the company building.
Rockstar Games’ lawyers have responded by claiming that Leslie’s lawsuit is “bizarre.”
In March 2018, 12 of his 18 claims were dismissed since the profit-sharing agreement Benzies signed doesn’t actually grant him a $150 million cut.
“In the absence of a fiduciary relationship, the claims for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, constructive fraud and negligent misrepresentation cannot stand.”
However, the court did rule that Leslie “remains entitled to receive certain royalties.”
Leslie’s litigation had come to an end on February 7, 2019. The settlement is confidential.
He led development on the Grand Theft Auto franchise from Grand Theft Auto III to Grand Theft Auto V.
GTA is one of the biggest franchises, having sold over 225 million units.
All the GTA games in which Benzies was involved are:
- Grand Theft Auto V (2013);
- Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009);
- Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009);
- Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned (2009);
- Grand Theft Auto IV (2008);
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006);
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005);
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004);
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002);
- Grand Theft Auto III (2001).
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Red Dead Redemption
He played a major role in the production of Red Dead Redemption, a Western action-adventure game that was developed by Rockstar San Diego.
Red Dead Redemption is played from a 3rd-person perspective in an open world.
It has shipped more than 15 million units.
Royal Circus Games
In January 2017, Benzies set up 5 new companies including Royal Circus Games Limited, Everywhere Game Limited, and Starship Group.
Royal Circus Games Limited intends to develop video games for PC, consoles, and smart devices.
Later, ”Royal Circus Games” has since been renamed ”Build a Rocket Boy Games.”
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Benzies also announced that Build A Rocket Boy Games is working on an upcoming open-world game called ”Everywhere.”
The company has studios in LA, Budapest, and Edinburgh.
”Everywhere” is set in an open world environment. The game is in development on Amazon Lumberyard – a free-to-download 3D engine.
According to Benzies, ”Everywhere” draws most of its influences from real life. According to the official website:
“In the near future, technology has brought humanity to the precipice of a world shifting change. There are those who want to use this technology to advantage only themselves, and those who want to use it to help all humankind.”
During an interview, Leslie said about the game:
”Everywhere has a lot of traditional game mechanics but we’re going for something more that draws inspiration from, well, everywhere.”
Benzies went on to say:
”Players are getting smarter and require more from their games, and we want players to have the real freedom to live in our worlds in the ways they want to.”
He later added:
”We’re aiming to offer a huge variety of game modes and styles that not only tell our stories but also enable players to live in the identities and adventures they most want to explore.”
In a different interview, the former Rockstar North president said:
”While the game has multiple narratives, we also want players to create their own narratives that include characters with a real personality.”
”If we do this right, we’re going to give players the chance to really live out their fantasies, not just the limited fantasies that most games set up for them, and do so in a deeply immersive way.”
When asked about the influences in producing Everywhere, he responded:
”For Everywhere most of the influences are coming from the outside world. Every day I see or hear something and think, we need to have that in the game.”
“The goal of a game launch in Q4 2021 remains viable,” Benzie said in January 2021.
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In June 2014, Benzie announced a deal to purchase the St Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge, Edinburgh.
In 2005, Benzies and Sam Houser received a BAFTA Special Award.
Another famous video game producer is Edmund McMillen.
Leslie Benzies – Net Worth
Benzies earned most of his wealth from being the president of Rockstar North. He was the lead developer for all GTA games from GTA III to GTA V, including GTA Online. Therefore, Leslie Benzies has an estimated net worth of $80 million.
Featured image source – © Guliver / Getty Images.
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