Grand Theft Auto mastermind unveils new game being made at Edinburgh studio

He is one of Scotland's most successful, if little known, creative forces.

Now Leslie Benzies, the mastermind behind the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, has offered a first glimpse of the eagerly anticipated project his new Edinburgh games studio has been working on.

Everywhere, a title that has been in development for the past five years, is billed as a “multi-world gaming experience”, which blends gameplay, adventure, creativity and discovery.

Build A Rocket Boy, the studio Benzies launched to create the new game, promised that it will “redefine how players connect with one another and the digital world around them”, and “blur the line” between reality and gameplay.

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While the game is not due to be released until next year, the first footage was broadcast at the recent Gamescom trade fair in Cologne. It showcased a variety of art styles and scenarios, from racing to sci-fi style worlds.

“Our intent has always been to push the boundaries of what a video game can be while still delivering an innovative player-first experience,” said Benzies, who is the game’s director.

“The team we’ve built and the partners we’ve made since our founding are coalescing around the unique vision we’re bringing to life. It’s exciting to be a part of, and we can’t wait to reveal more about Everywhere in the coming months.”

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Leslie Benzies said Everywhere will 'push the boundaries of what a videogame can be'. Picture: Build A Rocket Boy

The reveal of Everywhere has left gamers with more questions and answers, leading to speculation the title will include some kind of multiverse element, or that it may utilise controversial non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Although details of the game are thin on the ground, Benzies’ track record in the industry has fuelled expectations.

He served as the producer of eight titles in the acclaimed Grand Theft Auto series, and was the president of Rockstar North, the Edinburgh studio responsible for the best-selling franchise.

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He left Rockstar in acrimonious circumstances in 2016, and claimed he was forced out. He took Take Two Interactive, the studio’s parent company to court in the US, suing them for £105 million.

Before launching his own studio, Leslie Benzies was the producer of the acclaimed Grand Theft Auto franchise.

The publisher dismissed the allegation and launched the counter-action, but the dispute was resolved in 2019 after Benzies and Take Two reached a confidential settlement.

Scotland on Sunday revealed in 2017 how Aberdeen-born Benzies set up a series of companies in Edinburgh to push ahead with his new game, along with patents to “enable virtual reality viewing”.

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Since then, development on Everywhere has intensified. His new studio now employs around 230 staff, including several veteran figures in the games industry.

Benzies has also secured significant financing to scale up Build A Rocket Boy and its subsidiaries. The most recent accounts filed with Companies House show his firm’s backers include NetEase, a Chinese technology firm, US venture capital outfit Galaxy Interactive, and several investors based in the Cayman Islands.

But Benzies, who is also the chairman and majority shareholder of Build A Rocket Boy, has also invested heavily in his vision. The accounts show the 51-year-old has provided his company with loans totalling nearly £7.3m.

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