Leslie Benzies

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Leslie Benzies
Leslie Benzies @ Everywhere Game.jpg
Leslie Peter Benzies

(1971-01-17) 17 January 1971 (age 51)
Aberdeen, Scotland
Years active1995–present
Children1 son[1]
AwardsAIAS Hall of Fame Award (2014)[2]

Leslie Peter Benzies (born 17 January 1971) is a Scottish video game producer and the former president of Rockstar North, a subsidiary of Rockstar Games. He was the lead developer on the Grand Theft Auto series, taking responsibility from Grand Theft Auto III to Grand Theft Auto V (including Grand Theft Auto Online). Benzies is no longer working for Rockstar, and was in a lawsuit with its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, over unpaid royalties from April 2016 to February 2019.


Benzies was born in Aberdeen but moved far to Elgin when he was young. When Benzies was 11, his father Leonard purchased a Dragon 32 computer. Benzies taught himself how to program and wrote his first game.[3]

Benzies' professional career as a video game programmer began in 1995 at DMA Design (now Rockstar North), where he was team lead developing the Nintendo 64 video game Space Station Silicon Valley. This game was released in October 1998, after which he started assembling the team that would create Grand Theft Auto III.

In 2005, he and Sam Houser, President of Rockstar Games, received a BAFTA Special Award.[4]

In June 2014, he announced a deal to purchase the St Stephen's Church in Stockbridge, Edinburgh for a little over £500,000.[5] He plans to preserve the building and create a trust composed of members of the community to manage it.[6]

Benzies took sabbatical leave from Rockstar on 1 September 2014. In January 2016 it was announced that he had left the company.[7] Benzies later claimed that he was persuaded to take the sabbatical, during which his son and several of his friends were fired from the company and his email access was suspended; when he attempted to return to work, he was ordered to leave by the office manager and says that the company made "scurrilous allegations" about his actions at work.[1] On 12 April 2016, Benzies started legal action against Rockstar Games and its parent Take-Two Interactive claiming $150 million in unpaid royalties.[1]

In January 2017, he set up five new companies including Royal Circus Games which intends to develop games for consoles, PCs and mobile devices.[8]

On 29 March 2018, Benzies' litigation against Rockstar and Take-Two suffered a significant setback when the companies succeeded in dismissing 12 out of 18 of his claims, though the court did rule that Benzies "remains entitled to receive certain royalties" as part of his compensation.[9][10][11]

On 1 October 2018, it was announced that Benzies' new company was called Build a Rocket Boy Games.[12] The company has raised £32 million from investors in China and New York for its upcoming game Everywhere.[13]

On 7 February 2019, Benzies' litigation with Take-Two had officially come to an end.[14] All parties involved in the case successfully executed a confidential settlement, with each agreeing to bear its own costs and expenses, including, without limitation, attorney's fees.[15]


Year Game title Role
1998 Space Station Silicon Valley Lead Programmer[16]
2001 Grand Theft Auto III Producer[17]
2002 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Producer[18]
2003 Manhunt Producer, development director
2004 Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Producer
2005 Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories Producer
2006 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories Producer
2007 Manhunt 2 Producer
2008 Grand Theft Auto IV Producer
2009 Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned Producer
2009 Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Producer
2009 Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony Producer
2010 Red Dead Redemption Executive producer, lead designer
2011 L.A. Noire Executive producer
2012 Max Payne 3 Executive producer
2013 Grand Theft Auto V Producer, game designer[19]
TBA Everywhere Designer, Director


  1. ^ a b c Campbell, Colin (14 April 2016). "The great Grand Theft Auto lawsuit explained". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  2. ^ "D.I.C.E Special Awards". Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  3. ^ Bowditch, Gillian (27 April 2008). "Grand Theft Auto producer is Godfather of gaming". Sunday Times. Times Newspapers Ltd. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Games: Special Award in 2005". BAFTA. British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Rockstar North chief buys St Stephen's Church". Edinburgh News. 27 June 2014. Archived from the original on 30 June 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  6. ^ Phyllis Stephen (27 June 2014). "St Stephen's Church – future now assured". The Edinburgh Reporter. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  7. ^ Klepek, Patrick (12 January 2016). "Rockstar North Boss Leslie Benzies Is Out After Nearly Two Decades". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  8. ^ Martyn, McLaughlin (21 January 2017). "Grand Theft Auto mastermind Leslie Benzies launches new companies". The Scotsman. The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  9. ^ http://www.apprenticeship.ie
  10. ^ "Benzies v Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc".
  11. ^ "Former GTA producer suffers setback in $150m lawsuit against Take Two". 9 April 2018.
  12. ^ https://www.buildarocketboy.com/
  13. ^ "Telegraph Tech Hot 100: The full 2020 list revealed". The Telegraph. 28 October 2020. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  14. ^ https://ir.take2games.com/node/26061/html#s10A3DE2DCD4A5C20978E61F89FFEE312
  15. ^ "LESLIE BENZIES, Plaintiff, v. TAKE-TWO INTERACTIVE SOFTWARE, ROCKSTAR GAMES, INC., ROCKSTARNORTH LTD., DAN HOUSER, and SAM HOUSER, Defendants". New York Supreme Court. 8 February 2019. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  16. ^ "Leslie Benzies Video Game Credits and Biography".
  17. ^ "The Top 7 Ways Grand Theft Auto III changed the face of gaming". gamesradar. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Exploring Grand Theft Auto: Vice City's lasting impact on society with Rockstar's Leslie Benzies". Digital Trends. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  19. ^ Simmons, Alex (13 November 2012). "Grand Theft Auto 5's Unseen Mastermind". IGN. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 26 January 2017.