With a subordinate clause in an interview, Dan Houser, one of the chief executives at Rockstar Games, has started a renewed debate on working conditions at the company. In the meantime, the company has said that a comment on 100-hour weeks has only referred to a handful of executives and on limited occasions – yet it continues to seek mitigation. According to a report on Kotaku on 18 October 2018, the company has now allowed its employees to report on their working conditions on social networks .
This has almost immediately led to a whole series of contributions, according to which the burdens were last quite tolerable – at least compared to previous projects. “Crunch at Red Dead Redemption 2 was clearly better than at GTA 5, where I had to go through a month with 70 or more hours,” writes one of the programmers on Twitter . There are a number of similar reports, none of which sounds like really exaggerated pressure.
The situation does not seem to be completely relaxed. A few days later, on October 21, 2018, according to another report on Kotaku at Rockstar Lincoln, a quality assurance studio in the UK, there was a major meeting where overtime was discussed. Although they should be officially voluntary, but actually more work during the week and on the weekends were simply assumed – that should also know one or the other German workers. The management has now pointed out that overtime would normally not be mandatory or would be remunerated separately.
In the game industry, there are always discussions about long working hours – which would be arranged not only by employers. To some extent, especially among newcomers to the job, a great willingness to perform is probably part of the self-image, which can then lead to excessive self-exploitation.
In the case of Rockstar Games, there is the peculiarity that the company is more isolated from the rest of the industry than other companies. At major industry events, the studio is virtually unrepresented: at the E3 gaming fair, for example, there is usually no stand. At the main industry convention Game Developers Conference (GDC), held each spring in San Francisco, Rockstar is the only major company which hardly ever lectures or participates in panel discussions. This also means that less is known about the working conditions and the working atmosphere than other studios.
In particular, a public letter from the wives of developers who had worked on the first Red Dead Redemption in 2010 denounced working conditions. The next installment of the games series will be released on October 26, 2018 for Xbox One and Playstation 4.