Rockstar North Chief Leslie Benzies Says 'Game Over' After 17-Year Reign

Leslie Benzies, lead developer on the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto series and head of Rockstar North, has left the building. The 44-year-old game programmer is moving on, though it's not clear if he has other projects he wants to pursue or is simply retiring after an impressive career that spanned 17 years in the industry.

His name might not be one you're familiar with, but his fingerprints are on every Grand Theft Auto title since Grand Theft Auto III released in 2001, and yes, that includes Grand Theft Auto V. He's also helped produce games like Manhunt 2, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Max Payne 3.

Grand Theft Auto V Golf

An industry veteran, Benzies joined the big leagues in 1999 as a professional programmer for DMA Design, the development studio responsible for Lemmings. It was there that he worked on the Nintendo 64 title Space Station Silicon Valley, and after Take-Two Interactive acquired the studio, he was moved over to the GTA series.

Rockstar North is a subsidiary of Rockstar Games, which itself is owned by Take-Two Interactive. It's headquartered in Scotland. Benzies has been a big part of the studio's success, having been inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2014, along with Rockstar co-founders Dan Houser and Sam Houser.

"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," Rockstar said in a statement. "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."

Going forward, longtime Rockstar North art directors Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson will lead the studio.