Rockstar Games is now defending itself in the public as well as in court.
The Grand Theft Auto developer has responded to a lawsuit from the game’s former director Leslie Benzies by filing a countersuit of its own and providing GamesBeat with a statement about the case. Benzies’ complaint is asking publisher Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar Games, and Rockstar founders Dan and Sam Houser to pay $150 million in royalties. In an earlier statement, Benzies’ legal counsel referred to Take-Two and Rockstar’s countersuit as ‘sparse,’ and now Rockstar is hitting back with claims that the former director’s original filing is “downright bizarre.” This battle is waging over one of the $99.3 billion gaming industry’s biggest properties, and it could also reveal some internal secrets of one that business’s most secretive studios.
“Leslie Benzies was a valued employee of our company for many years,” reads the Rockstar Games statement provided to GamesBeat. “Sadly, the events that culminated in his resignation ultimately stem from his significant performance and conduct issues. Despite our repeated efforts to address and resolve these issues amicably both before and after his departure, Leslie has chosen to take this route in an attempt to set aside contract terms to which he previously agreed on multiple occasions.”
In the original complaint from Benzies, the former president of Rockstar North preemptively addressed some of these claims. That filing references Sam Houser allegedly threatening to blame Benzies’ incompetence for the delays of GTA V and GTA: Online. In response to that, Benzies suit includes several emails throughout the launch period of those games where Houser praises Benzies.
The Rockstar Games statement continues by dismissing all of lawsuit’s assertions.
“[Benzies’] claims are entirely without merit and in many instances downright bizarre, and we are very confident this matter will be resolved in our favor,” reads the statement. “A core ethos since Rockstar’s inception has been the concept of ‘the team.’ It is deeply disappointing and simply wrong for Leslie to attempt to take personal credit for what has always been the tremendous efforts of the entire Rockstar team, who remain hard at work delivering the most immersive and engaging entertainment experiences we can for our fans. We do not intend to comment further on this matter.”
Correction: This story originally noted that other members of the Rockstar team were not eligible for the profit and royalty sharing. That is not accurate, and I apologize for the error.