No heist here
It has been almost exactly two years since we first learned about Leslie Benzies’ lawsuit against Rockstar. Benzies, the former head of Rockstar North and a longtime producer of the studio’s biggest games, alleges that he was forced out of the company and is owed $150 million in unpaid royalties. The judicial system doesn’t agree with that claim.
Benzies’ case mostly relies on a royalty agreement that escalated him to “Rockstar Principal” — a small group of key players who are most responsible for the companies success. The agreement is essentially a profit sharing arrangement meant to provide extra compensation to Benzies and Rockstar co-founders Sam and Dan Houser. Benzies argues the Housers were given more money than him during his 17-month sabbatical.
However, as reported by GamesIndustry.biz, the New York Supreme Court recently ruled that Rockstar does not owe Benzies $150 million. Its interpretation of the contract finds that there’s no language suggesting mandatory equal payments, and that it only accounts for “discretionary royalty payments.” This makes the agreement seem like a good faith-based arrangement that’s meant to compensate bonuses whenever Rockstar feels they’re warranted.
All is not lost for Benzies, though. The court also ruled he is still entitled to certain royalties that went unpaid. Benzies also successfully argued that there was a breach in his employment agreement that revolves around salary and stock options. It’s likely that Benzies will squeeze some more money out of Rockstar before it’s all said and done. He just won’t squeeze out $150 million.
Former GTA producer suffers setback in $150m lawsuit against Take Two [GamesIndustry.biz]