Rockstar North studio lead Leslie Benzies has elected to part ways with the company after leaving on sabbatical on September 1, 2014.

Kotaku editor Patrick Klepek said he first heard rumors that Benzies was leaving Rockstar more than a year ago. When asked at the time, Rockstar said Benzies was going on sabbatical following the launch of Grand Theft Auto 5.

When he checked back recently to see if Benzies had returned, Rockstar confirmed that Benzies decided not to return to work. Rockstar said it was grateful for his contributions over the last 15 years as they worked together to make some amazing games.

Benzies joined the team in 1999 and worked as a programmer for the Nintendo 64 game Space Station Silicon Valley before helping out with the Grand Theft Auto series and many other titles including Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, LA Noire and Manhunt. Benzies was inducted into the Academy of Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2014 alongside Rockstar co-founders Dan and Sam Houser.

Moving forward, Rockstar North art directors Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson will lead the studio in its next endeavor. No word yet on what Benzies' next move will be, whether it is to retire entirely from the industry or find a new home.

This is the second high-profile, longtime game developer to part ways with their company in as many weeks. Just last week, it was revealed that Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw had retired from Valve after 18 years on the job.

Image courtesy Kotaku