After GTA 5 Exec Leaves, Take-Two Boss "Highly Confident" in Franchise's Future

During a post-earnings briefing today, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick was asked to provide some additional color regarding the departure of Leslie Benzies, the longtime studio head of Grand Theft Auto V developer Rockstar North. Zelnick confirmed that Benzies went on sabbatical in September 2014 and decided not to return to work. He also praised Benzies’ contributions to the Grand Theft Auto series and said he is “highly confident” the GTA franchise will move forward without issue.

“We’re really proud of the team approach that we have here at our company–and we have a very broad and deep team,” Zelnick said. “We’re so proud of the deep and broad pool of creative talent. It’s our job to move ahead day and night without ever missing a beat. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Zelnick’s comments came in response to a question specifically regarding what Benzies’ departure means, if anything, with regards to Rockstar Games founders Sam and Dan Houser. Zelnick didn’t mention them by name, but instead provided a high-level overview of the contractual relationships it has with developers across its studios.

“In terms of our colleagues here at every level, we enjoy longstanding relationships with all the people who make this organization tick,” he said. “We aim to be the best place in the business to work at. We are imperfect, of course, and I’m especially imperfect. But our track record speaks for itself.

“We have extraordinarily long-term relationships [with our employees] and I’m highly confident they will continue.”

Zelnick was also asked if he knew anything about Benzies’ post-Rockstar plans and if he was worried that Benzies might try to draw out talent from Rockstar. Zelnick dodged this question.

“I have all the respect in the world for Leslie and for everyone else here, current and former colleagues,” he said. “Of course, I wish him all the best. I can’t comment on his plans.”

Benzies, a Scotland native, has lived in Edinburgh for more than a decade, where Rockstar North has developed every Grand Theft Auto game since Grand Theft Auto III. In 2014, Benzies bought a church in Edinburgh to save it for the community.

Taking over for Benzies in Rockstar North management roles are 19-year Rockstar veteran Aaron Garbut and Rob Nelson.

In October 2013, just a few weeks after GTA V originally launched, Benzies said Rockstar has “some ideas” for Grand Theft Auto VI.

Benzies, along with Sam and Dan Houser, were inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts & Science’s Hall of Fame in 2014.

In other GTA news, GTA V has now shipped an astonishing 60 million copies.

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Author: Eddie Makuch

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Samsung is putting giant screens on the back of big trucks to make passing safer

Driving on a two-lane road behind a tractor trailer can be an exercise in bravery, especially on a twisty road with limited passing opportunities. Can I make it around the truck? Is there someone coming that I can’t see until I’m halfway into the lane? If I try to pass right now will I die?

That’s the problem that Samsung is trying to solve with its Safety Truck, a big rig with four huge, weatherproof TV screens on the back. Those screens are hooked up to a camera installed on the front of the truck, so a car behind the truck can see what’s going on in front of the truck and know when it’s safe to pass.

The truck, which had previously debuted as a concept, will soon enter testing in Argentina. If the test is successful, the technology…

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Author: Jordan Golson

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Taylor Swift Video Game on the Way, Described as "One-of-a-Kind"

Pop sensation Taylor Swift is getting her own video game. Kim Kardashian: Hollywood developer Glu Mobile announced today that it has reached a deal with the 26-year-old singer.

I really hope Swift’s mobile game includes kangaroo selfies

Details are light at the moment, but Glu said in news release that this is a multi-year partnership with the artist. Glu will make a “one-of-a-kind digital gaming experience,” but no other details are available.

“We realize that Taylor and her global fan base expect a new and highly differentiated mobile gaming experience,” Glu chairman and CEO Niccolo de Masi said. “Glu is equally committed to designing never before seen gameplay elements that utilize Taylor’s unique creativity. Accordingly, we will spend the required development time to ensure this innovation is achieved.”

This will be Swift’s first-ever mobile game. It is due to launch in “late 2016,” with more details about the game and Swift’s involvement to come at a later date.

Some other celebrities who have their own video games include Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Demi Lovato.

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Author: Eddie Makuch

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Intel beat its diversity goals, but there’s still much more to do

Intel released its second Diversity and Inclusion Report today, and with it comes hard stats about how much progress the company’s made to diversify its workforce. The good news: Intel aimed to have 40 percent of its 2015 hires be either women or minorities, and it surpassed that goal. Forty-three percent of its newest hires represent more diverse groups. Underrepresented minorities accounted for 11.8 percent of those hires. (Asian men are an overrepresented minority, for example.)

Also good news is that the hiring of women increased by nearly 43 percent (1,700 women were brought onboard). Intel also says that it compensates those women fairly and reports a 100 percent pay parity for men and women.

Intel reports a 100 percent pay…

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Author: Ashley Carman

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Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens Almost Featured Yoda

Everyone’s favourite little green Jedi almost made it into The Force Awakens. Yoda was considered to be in the film alongside other classic Star Wars actors, but he was cut before the film hit theatres.

The Star Wars film’s editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey spoke to Entertainment Tonight at the 66th annual ACE Eddie Awards about the legendary, yet mysterious Jedi master.

“There was one point where we were actually thinking of having Yoda in the film, and then we decided not to,” Brandon told ET. “[Yoda puppeteer and voice actor Frank Oz] came in for a day and did a whole bunch of Yoda and he was over the moon to do it–and we were tickled pink!”

Yoda would have appeared in the “Force vision” scene with Obi-Wan actors Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor.

In other Star Wars news, it was confirmed that the chromed-out Captain Phasma will return in Episode VIII. And if you’re still following The Force Awakens’ record-breaking rise in the box office, it’s nearing the $2 billion mark.

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Author: Mat Paget

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GoPro releases new 4K sample footage from the Karma drone

GoPro is about to announce what is likely to be disappointing earnings from the company’s fourth quarter of 2015, so what better to distract from that then some new footage from the company’s upcoming drone? The footage shows skiier Bobby Brown cruising down a hill holding what you’d think was just a GoPro — that is, until he lets it go and the camera just flies away into the wintery sky.

GoPro’s been slowly releasing tiny bits of information about the Karma quadcopter ever since CEO Nick Woodman announced it at last year’s Code Conference. The bit we learned this time around is that the drone will shoot in 4K resolution. That’s not necessarily surprising, but at the rate we’re learning about Karma, we’ll take it.

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Author: Sean O’Kane

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SpaceX will modify its Falcon 9 rocket based on tests of its landed vehicle

SpaceX will be making modifications to its Falcon 9 rocket based on what the company learned from re-igniting the engines on the vehicle it landed. That’s according to SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell, who spoke about the state of the company today at the Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Wasington, DC. Shotwell didn’t specify what those modifications will be, but said the changes will make the vehicle “even more robust” for its ascent into space.

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Author: Loren Grush

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