Rockstar North, the maker of Grand Theft Auto, is rumoured to postpone the release of GTA 6, following the exit of Leslie Benzies, the brain behind the game. The new edition was expected to be released by 2018, within four years of the release of GTA 5 in September 2013. But with the early and unexpected departure of the studio head, the company might postpone GTA 6 to 2019 or even 2020, reports Value Walk, a news portal.

GTA has been among the highest grossing franchise games. Last week, it had shipped over 60 million copies of GTA 5 across all five platforms. Within just three days of its release it generated over $1bn in revenue.

The delay beyond four years could be a major disappointment for millions of GTA fans, who have been eagerly waiting for the next edition. According to reports, the release was expected to coincide with the launch of the new Sony Playstation in 2018. The company had begun work on the sixth edition in early December last year, but things have become uncertain with the exit of Benzies in the middle of that month.

The company initially said he had taken a 17-month-long sabbatical, but it later told Kotaku that Benzies had disassociated himself with Rockstar North.

"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."

The New York-based gaming major is expected to continue with GTA 5, perhaps add a few more features and updates to the game to keep fans hooked to it for another two to three years. Last month, the company introduced a new update to GTA 5 indicating future DLC cars and more car customisation upgrades at the Benny's Original Motorworks.