In a new Vulture interview of Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser, Houser told the publication that its employees had been working 100-hour weeks several times during Red Dead Redemption 2’s development.
The polishing, rewrites, and reedits Rockstar does are immense. ‘We were working 100-hour weeks’ several times in 2018, Dan says. The finished game includes 300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue, and many more lines of code. Even for each RDR2 trailer and TV commercial, ‘we probably made 70 versions, but the editors may make several hundred. Sam and I will both make both make lots of suggestions, as will other members of the team.’
This type of overworking is commonly referred to as crunch, and while at the front many developers condemn such working conditions, many of them still practice it to make sure their games meet deadlines and launch on time. Rockstar specifically is no stranger to crunch, having had a letter written to them in 2010 from the wives of Rockstar San Diego employees who brought to light just how awful working conditions had become for their spouses. In the letter, they describe how “some employees have been diagnosed with depression symptoms and at least one among them is acknowledged to have suicidal tendencies.” The most significant point made in the letter was how employees are being manipulated and that the worsened working conditions had such an impact on employees it affected the quality of life for family members.
The turning for the worse came approximately in the month of March of 2009. Till present, the working conditions persists to deteriorate as employees are manipulated by certain hands that wield the reigns of power in Rockstar San Diego. Furthermore, the extent of degradation employees have suffered extends to their quality of life and their family members.
Rockstar’s response to the letter? A politely worded ‘well if you don’t like it go somewhere else’ response. Not only did they heavily deflect, they almost seemed to relish in the fact that they had so many employees who were focused on developing these titles.
We’re saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs, but the vast majority of our company are focused solely on delivering cutting edge interactive entertainment.
What Rockstar’s tone-deaf response doesn’t take into account is how many developers have a passion for creating video games but not a passion for overworking themselves.