One of the three people most directly responsible for the massive success of the Grand Theft Auto series has left Rockstar Games. Leslie Benzies, who was head of lead GTA studio Rockstar North, left the company after a lengthy sabbatical, according to a statement given to Kotaku (opens in new tab).
Benzies worked as a producer on every Grand Theft Auto since its influential third entry, having joined what was then called DMA Design in 1999. Chances are good that you’ve seen his name light up in those stylish pre-game credits scenes countless times, right alongside Rockstar co-founders Dan and Sam Houser. Benzies and the Houser brothers were inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science’s Hall of Fame in 2014 for their work on GTA, the broader Rockstar catalog, and their contributions to the gaming medium as a whole (Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima will join their ranks (opens in new tab) in the Hall of Fame this year).
Rockstar said Benzies took a sabbatical from his work at Rockstar North starting on September 1, 2014, about a year after the initial release of GTA 5 (opens in new tab) and likely just as work was finishing up on its current-gen versions. Sometime after that, Benzies decided to not return to the studio, though Rockstar only confirmed his departure when prodded by Kotaku.
Rockstar North is now led by GTA 5 art directors Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson, who both also have numerous Rockstar credits to their names. Hopefully they’ll work on releasing whatever Agent is these days (opens in new tab) next.
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