The lead developer on the Grand Theft Auto series and president of Rockstar North, Leslie Benzies has left the company.
Word comes via a Kotaku report that Benzies has been on ‘sabbatical’ since the launch of Grand Theft Auto V in September 2013 and has now decided to part ways with Rockstar.
Benzies lead development and produced GTA titles from its 3-D inception beginning with GTA III up to the recent GTA V. He also played a part in bringing other Rockstar games to fruition such as Red Dead Redemption and L.A Noire.
He joined Rockstar North in 1999 and in 2005 won a BAFTA Special Award, alongside Rockstar president Sam Houser, for his outstanding contribution to the industry.
The company has confirmed Benzies’ extended paid leave and departure in a statement saying:
“We can confirm that Leslie Benzies went on sabbatical on September 1, 2014 and has decided not to return to work for the company.
“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.”
It is unclear whether or not Benzies’ confirmed departure is indicative of him finding a new position at another studio or that it is simply an answer to a question put forward by Kotaku.
Thank you Benzies for your contribution to delivering many incredible games and we here wish you the very best for the future, wherever that may take you.
Image credited to: GiantBomb