Leslie Benzies, one of the top dogs at Rockstar North, the studio which headed GTA V’s development, is no longer with the company. A long time Rockstar veteran, Benzies went on extended leave after the release of GTA V and has now decided not to return.
Just over a year ago rumors that Benzies was leaving the developer behind GTA 5 cropped up for the first time. However, the official statement was that he had gone on sabbatical following the massive push to get GTA V out to the fans.
Recently Kotaku reached out to Rockstar, asking whether or not the core member had since returned. They provided this statement:
We can confirm that 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.
Benzies joined up with Rockstar way back in 1999. His first project was an extremely obscure N64 sci-fi game after which he moved on to GTA, shepherding it all the way until 2014. Of course, GTA wasn’t his only responsibility, has his studio played the leading role in the development of games such as Manhunt and Red Dead Redemption.
Based on Rockstar’s statement, it seems that Leslie planned on going back after some time off and changed his mind while away. Regardless, the folks over a Rockstar harbor no hard feelings:
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.
Leslie’s shoes will be filled by two other veterans of the studio, Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson, which shows just how influential Benzies was for the company.
Which game that Benzies worked on was your favorite?