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Leslie Benzies, Long-Time GTA Producer and Studio Head, Has Left Rockstar

Benzies, the producer on every GTA game since 3, went on sabbatical 17 months ago and chose not to return to the company.

Given the time he spent working on the series, it's appropriate that Benzies looks like a minor GTA character.
Given the time he spent working on the series, it's appropriate that Benzies looks like a minor GTA character.

Future games in the Grand Theft Auto franchise are going to be missing the oversight of long-time series producer Leslie Benzies. That's because (as one Patrick Klepek reports), Benzies has decided to leave Rockstar North after 15 years with the company.

Benzies began at the Scotland-based developer back when it was still DMA Design. After working as team lead on Space Station Silicon Valley, he went on to take on Producer roles for Grand Theft Auto III and just about every GTA game after that. Benzies also served as producer on Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire, and held the position of President at Rockstar North.

Over a year and a half ago, Rockstar reported that Benzies had gone on a temporary sabbatical. When asked for a follow up today, they gave Kotaku 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.

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.

Rockstar has always been sort of a black box, so it's hard to know for sure how large of a role Benzies had in developing Rockstar North's particular style. Kotaku reports that Rockstar vets Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson have taken on leadership roles at the studio, so it isn't as if the team has been left without a rudder. That said, it will still be hard to look at the studio's next game without wondering what it would be like if Benzies hadn't left.

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