A new report from Kotaku’s Jason Schreier has surfaced, detailing the experiences of dozens of employees at Rockstar Games. The developer and publisher of powerhouse franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar has faced criticism about its work culture in the past. Now, this new report contains testimonies from over 70 current and former employees detailing an environment many would call difficult and demanding.
Most employees requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company. This is despite Rockstar’s earlier assurance to their employees regarding talking publicly about their work experience. Employees detail what is referred to as a “culture of fear;” fear of leaving early, fear of rejecting overtime work, or similar. Despite the public assurances of Rockstar higher-ups, many employees report being required to work extra hours, and being judged both my management and coworkers for refusing. Still others say their experience at the company was a relatively positive one, that the long hours were simply a “price of working there.”
While this report follows a string of bad press regarding Red Dead Redemption 2‘s arduous development process, Schreier also details anecdotes going back a decade. Rockstar’s practices first came to light in an anonymous post online from “wives of Rockstar Games” employees, detailing 12-hour, 6 day work weeks. At one point, Rockstar brought laundry service to one of their offices to assist their perpetually busy workers.
Many more report that the company keeps a sharp eye on its employees for the purposes of promoting productivity. Labeling and confronting people who have not worked unpaid overtime, having developers record every piece of work done, even tracking worked hours through the company’s bug tracking software. Many took issue with Dan Houser’s recent statement that crunch was encouraged yet optional. One employee reacted: “…ridiculous. It is optional if you want to lose your job or never move forward in your career.”
Further detailed is the company’s culture, which some refer to as a “cult.” ““It was never about working, it was always about, you want that good bonus so you need Dan and Sam to see you sitting there.” Rockstar is seemingly a company built on perception, if they see you work hard, you are part of their family. Yet the recent news cycle has shown that Rockstar’s employees do not feel the camaraderie that management promotes.