After GTA 5 Exec Leaves, Take-Two Boss "Highly Confident" in Franchise's Future

"I have all the respect in the world for Leslie."


During a post-earnings briefing today, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was asked to provide some additional color regarding the departure of Leslie Benzies, the longtime studio head of Grand Theft Auto V developer Rockstar North. Zelnick confirmed that Benzies went on sabbatical in September 2014 and decided not to return to work. He also praised Benzies' contributions to the Grand Theft Auto series and said he is "highly confident" the GTA franchise will move forward without issue.

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"We're really proud of the team approach that we have here at our company--and we have a very broad and deep team," Zelnick said. "We're so proud of the deep and broad pool of creative talent. It's our job to move ahead day and night without ever missing a beat. And that's what we're doing."

Zelnick's comments came in response to a question specifically regarding what Benzies' departure means, if anything, with regards to Rockstar Games founders Sam and Dan Houser. Zelnick didn't mention them by name, but instead provided a high-level overview of the contractual relationships it has with developers across its studios.

"In terms of our colleagues here at every level, we enjoy longstanding relationships with all the people who make this organization tick," he said. "We aim to be the best place in the business to work at. We are imperfect, of course, and I'm especially imperfect. But our track record speaks for itself.

"We have extraordinarily long-term relationships [with our employees] and I'm highly confident they will continue."

Zelnick was also asked if he knew anything about Benzies' post-Rockstar plans and if he was worried that Benzies might try to draw out talent from Rockstar. Zelnick dodged this question.

"I have all the respect in the world for Leslie and for everyone else here, current and former colleagues," he said. "Of course, I wish him all the best. I can't comment on his plans."

Benzies, a Scotland native, has lived in Edinburgh for more than a decade, where Rockstar North has developed every Grand Theft Auto game since Grand Theft Auto III. In 2014, Benzies bought a church in Edinburgh to save it for the community.

Taking over for Benzies in Rockstar North management roles are 19-year Rockstar veteran Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson.

In October 2013, just a few weeks after GTA V originally launched, Benzies said Rockstar has "some ideas" for Grand Theft Auto VI.

Benzies, along with Sam and Dan Houser, were inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Science's Hall of Fame in 2014.

In other GTA news, GTA V has now shipped an astonishing 60 million copies.

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Avatar image for SprSynJn

Unless I'm mistaken, sabbatical does not apply to heads of a company. I doubt Mr. Benzies was doing any research during his time away.

Avatar image for happycamper1979

I'm not highly confident in the franchisees success. It seems to be getting geared more toward the shitty online multiplayer aspect and less about the single player story mode and I don't like that. I will not be buying their next game no matter the title.

Avatar image for sladey

A new Red Dead or Bully would be splendid, I hope at least 1 of them gets announced this year

Avatar image for lvsolja

@sladey: nope .!because game developers never do what the gamer wants..they always try to cram down your throat things you never asked for..

Avatar image for consolehaven

@lvsolja: Boy were you wrong!

Avatar image for barcaazul

I was hoping they would talk about something during this call.

Avatar image for migelpsp

GTA6 is coming away this year or the next couple !!
they should build more exotic cars and more bikes and more mission to do in the games a very long story so we can have more fun...

Avatar image for cip_raziel

@migelpsp: Don't mistake Rockstar/GTA with Ubisoft/AssCreed. GTA5 is still making money for them so there is no reason to make a new one so soon. They'll probably make 1 or 2 new games before even thinking of GTA6, wich will be most likely more focused on online part.

Avatar image for rapt0rx

@cip_raziel: well according to the article they already started thinking about gta6 and that was in 2013 so I'm sure gta 6 is already in development. Devs do listen to people however the truth behind the scenes is how Manny have cried for it and what does the dev want to try and do next. I enjoy waiting for the next game whatever it is. If I don't like what they made I won't play it very simple and realistic than assuming my single opinion controls a million / billion dollar company. That's just me in the real world.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum

@cip_raziel: New Max Payne, Midnight Club and of course Table Tennis so they can perfect their shooting, driving and mini-games for the new gen

Avatar image for PS2fweak

I loved reading about his ideas for the future of GTA. It sucks because he was literally the only top exec at Rockstar who would open up about his future plans/hopes for the series. This really makes me wonder what's going on behind the scenes.

Avatar image for soarlozer

Just means there will either be less or more microtransactions in the next one.

Avatar image for punksterdaddy

Oh no I am gutted to learn this, make no mistake Leslie Benzies will be a huge loss for Rockstar North. He was the last of the original Developers from DMA, back before it became Rockstar.

I hope this doesn't bring an end to all the references in GTA to Scottish Towns and Cities.

I know this is of no interest to anybody else here but Benzies is from my home town and he is a legend. I am willing to bet he has left due to where Rockstar are heading, which cannot be good. It could be because he is sick of all the negativity towards his work, two decades of being told "Your games kill people," Would take there toll on any person.

Whatever it is, if he is going to start up on his own then he has got his first sale with me. He is a hero of mine I am not ashamed to say, he inspired me to get into writing dialogue for games... but I gave it up due to not getting any jobs doing it.

Best of luck to him.

Avatar image for Lucidmike78

I think VR is the way to go. That'd make it ground breaking. And of course a standard 2D for people who don't want to play it in VR. More detailed textures, more realistic lighting is not going to be groundbreaking enough without VR.

Avatar image for jokingjoey14

I bet Eddie sees little explosions in his head after every quote he puts at the top of his articles..

Avatar image for saturatedbutter

@jokingjoey14: He keeps a microphone at his desk so every time he presses the publish button he can pick up the mic and drop it.

Avatar image for jokingjoey14

@saturatedbutter: ha yeah literally

Avatar image for DrunkenPunk800

Well, then hurry the hell up! I LOVE GTA V, but it's time for a new game, or at the very least, large scale single player DLC packs, similar to TLAD and TBOGT.

Avatar image for SkytheWiz1

The title makes it sound like they're doing better BECAUSE the guy left.

Avatar image for brn-dn

Great to see small indie titles like Grand Theft Auto succeed, I'll fund a Kickstarter if they need it, such a hidden gem this franchise.