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Trouble at Rockstar Games - Another Infinity Ward/Activision lawsuit imminent?


Janski
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http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2016/04/12/gta-producer-leslie-benzies-sues-rockstar-for-150-million-rockstar-sues-back

 

 

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The “sabbatical” that former Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies was on has proven to be far more complicated than it first appeared.

 

When Kotaku reported that Benzies had left Rockstar North back in January, the company told us been on a sabbatical for several months and had “decided not to return to work for the company.”

Benzies paints a more complicated story. In a press release announcing his lawsuit, Benzies claims he was “enticed by Rockstar” to take a sabbatical after the launch of Grand Theft Auto V. During that time, he reportedly discovered “numerous deceptions” designed to push him out of the company and deny him royalty payments to the tune of $150 million.

 

In December 2008, Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive announced long-term employment contracts and a “profit sharing arrangement” with Benzies and Rockstar co-founders Dan and Sam Houser.

“This new chapter in our successful relationship further aligns the interests of our creative teams with those of our shareholders,” said Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick at the time.

Benzies’ lawsuit says the agreements were identical for all three, and Sam Houser’s actions to remove Benzies from the arrangement was “the product of what turned out to be a lengthy deception” driven by “mounting resentments after many years of high praise.”

 

This will get messy...

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Remember the Rockstar Spouse thing a few years ago? The Housers absolutely fucked over Bensies for money, I don't think I've ever read anyone paint them in a positive light. My prediction : much like the IW case, settled out of court.

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There's some interesting reading in this Leslie Benzies-Rockstar suit, like this snippet about Red Dead Redemption.

Cf2yFCEWEAIPUqj.jpg

 

I need the benz!

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In 2014, the Housers forced an abrupt and unannounced end to Mr. Benzies’ profit-sharing payments, without notice or warning, and without reference to exactly where they or the companies obtained this authority. Mr. Benzies received only a simple message from an executive vice-president at Rockstar: “Sam thinks you’ve had enough.”

 

Denial of Royalties, Attempted Return, and Ouster
73.

It soon became clear to Mr. Benzies that the “sabbatical” was actually an expulsion – the commencement of Defendants’ campaign to oust Mr. Benzies. By September 2014, Sam Houser had ceased all communications with Mr. Benzies. Mr. Benzies’ company Blackberry was remotely disabled without notice and his company email account was locked, over Mr. Benzies’ objections. Mr. Benzies requested access to the account during the sabbatical, which was wholly rejected. 

74.

During Mr. Benzies’ sabbatical, Sam Houser terminated or forced-out some of Mr. Benzies’ key support staff. Mr. Benzies was not consulted about those decisions or any other business decisions during his sabbatical. 

75.

During the sabbatical, Mr. Benzies had infrequent contact with Rockstar through Ms. Kolbe. He was not allowed to speak with any other colleagues at Rockstar, and was not allowed access to any data. Long-time colleague Andy Semple refused to meet with him. Mr. Benzies was now completely cut-off, including from colleagues he had worked with for up to twenty years. 

76.

While Mr. Benzies was on his sabbatical and through the date of this Complaint, Sam Houser and Dan Houser (through the “Allocation Committee” comprised of the Housers, and one Take-Two representative) awarded themselves at least $93,000,000 in profit sharing distributions derived from the exploitation of GTA 5, and potentially as much as $523,000,000. During that period, Sam Houser awarded Mr. Benzies no shared profits, a violation of the 2009 Royalty Plan, his own fiduciary duty to Mr. Benzies, and the long-standing actual practice of treating the Rockstar Principals identically with respect to royalties. Mr. Benzies also failed to receive quarterly reports describing the “royalty pool” (as was his contractual right, and Take-Two’s contractual obligation, under the 2009 Royalty Plan), until March 2015. He received no notice that any Plan profit shares were distributed to his fellow Rockstar Principals.

 

Savage. If 76 is true then surely they don't have a leg to stand on.

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That's what I thought @Unofficial Who, how much money must they have made being on the top tier, the Housers & Benzies.

What I like about Rockstar's productions is that you never really get to see beyond the curtain of them getting made; they just sort of appear from planet Rockstar. All the blood, sweat and tears hidden away behind that shiny big R★. 

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It's hard to feel too sorry for him considering he's one of three people at R* with a profit sharing contract, the two being the Housers obviously, and getting rich off of it.  

 

Everything I've ever heard about R* is of low wages, no royalties, years of crunch, poor planning & management.

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A collective $80m bonus for the two Houser brothers is fucking insane. If you assume 500 people worked on GTAV, that's a bonus pot of $160k per employee. I wonder how many of them got any bonus at all after the game shipped?

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Benzies made a shit load of money before even the launch of GTA V though, enough for him to do some philanthropy for his home town a while back, while the Housers were off buying mansions in the US.

 

Considering the sorts of numbers they've been generating for the series, the 3 of them are fucking loaded, well Benzies will be if he manages to win this court case :P

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On 4/13/2016 at 6:38 AM, Stanley said:

If you really believed this you wouldn't play console games at all, or use a smartphone etc. How about the staff on zero hour contracts who serve you your coffee, provide your groceries etc? They're pretty much slaves.

 

Don't get me wrong I don't particularly like the sound of these Houser chaps but they're not better/worse than any other corporate whores.

 

It's likely impossible to spend all of your money ethically, but there's nothing wrong with attempting to do it here and there. See: not spending money on Sony until they figure out their customer service.

 

Edit- some people disagree with voting with your wallet. You'll get the product you deserve!

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10 hours ago, TehStu said:

 

It's likely impossible to spend all of your money ethically, but there's nothing wrong with attempting to do it here and there. See: not spending money on Sony until they figure out their customer service.

 

Edit- some people disagree with voting with your wallet. You'll get the product you deserve!

Well the product here is GTA V so I'm not sure what that proves.

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On 13/04/2016 at 9:38 PM, Stanley said:

If you really believed this you wouldn't play console games at all, or use a smartphone etc. How about the staff on zero hour contracts who serve you your coffee, provide your groceries etc? They're pretty much slaves.

 

Don't get me wrong I don't particularly like the sound of these Houser chaps but they're not better/worse than any other corporate whores.

 

Then maybe we should stop shrugging our shoulders and saying that this sort of thing is ok?

 

Some of the allegations here http://www.polygon.com/2016/4/14/11428072/the-great-grand-theft-auto-lawsuit-explained

 

seem pretty 'novel'.

 

But hey, it's not like I'm saying we should boycott them because of alleged behaviour. In fact in my country it's illegal to organise commercial boycotts.

 

So I'll leave the final word to Take 2.

 

GTA 5, the company's last game, featured grotesquely violent scenes against some of society's most vulnerable women, which publisher Take-Two then defended callously, stating that

"if you don't like it, you don't have to buy it."

 

 

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The bit where Trevor rapes a meth addict in exchange for a hit, then stomps her boyfriend's skull into the carpet right in front of her might possibly fit the description.  

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It's not consensual because it's a guy taking advantage of an addict's inability to make rational decisions to procure sex from her in return for drugs. 

 

Even if if you ignore that, he smashes her boyfriend's brain into pulp in front of her. 

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21 hours ago, mushashi said:

Benzies made a shit load of money before even the launch of GTA V though, enough for him to do some philanthropy for his home town a while back, while the Housers were off buying mansions in the US.

 

Considering the sorts of numbers they've been generating for the series, the 3 of them are fucking loaded, well Benzies will be if he manages to win this court case 

 

I've been in the guys house, believe me he's fucking loaded.

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