Leslie Benzies, president of Rockstar North for 15 years and one of the most influential figures in the company, has officially departed from Rockstar.
Benzies went on an extended break on September 1 in 2014, about a year after Grand Theft Auto V’s release in 2013 and before the launch of the title on the PS4 and Xbox One. Following that break, he has decided not to return to his post in the company. It should be worth noting that Grand Theft Auto V sold 54 million copies, while the series as a whole have sold more than 220 million units worldwide- these numbers aren’t something to be laughed at, and Benzies’ guidance was instrumental to raking them in.
Rockstar confirmed Benzies’ departure from the gaming giant to Kotaku. In an official statement, they said, “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. 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.”
While hearing Benzies leaving Rockstar is a bit sad, it’s nice to know that their partnership didn’t end on a bad note at the very least, as a lot of amazing games have come out of it. Benzies first joined the studio back in 1999, when it was still known as DMA Design. He worked on the GTA series beginning with 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III, and the rest was history. Other notable titles released under his wing as producer are LA Noire, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption.
As for how Benzies himself is doing, the former Rockstar president supposedly purchased the St. Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge, Edinburgh with the philanthropic intent to preserve the property for the benefit of the community.
Meanwhile, studio vets Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson have taken over the reins for Rockstar North in Benzies’ stead. Both were previously involved in art direction when the company was doing development on Grand Theft Auto V, and both also had a hand in other releases from the company, such as detective title LA Noire and Wild West adventure Red Dead Redemption.