With the recent article
and interview with Rockstar's Dan Houser that gave some insight into development, his statement of '100 work weeks' drew fair criticism - in that a work schedule of that nature is insane and unhealthy. Clarifying that is was something that he and a small group of writers do (and have done in the past) for a few weeks, Rockstar has lifted social media restrictions for its employees to post freely about working conditions.
The videogame industry is notorious to what is referred to as 'crunch' where developers work insane hours for extended periods to meet deadlines. Companies like Rockstar and EA have drawn criticism over the practice in the past when employees have spoken out. With employees and Red Dead Redemption 2 developers now speaking up - the picture seems to be one of overtime sure, but within reason and paid for.
"R* has granted permission for us to speak frankly about this issue on social media," notes Red Dead Redemption 2 programmer Vivianne Langdon
. "I have never worked more than maybe 50 hours a week (and that's a rare occurrence), but I generally work about 2-6 hours of paid overtime per week."
"In the time that I've been at the studio, work practices have definitely improved. Crunch on Red Dead Redemption 2 has definitely been a lot better that it was on GTA V, where I was pulling a month of 70+ hour weeks (while being told by my boss at the time to go home...)," adds Senior Code Content Developer at Rockstar North, Phil Beveridge
. "That isn't saying that overtime doesn't happen. On average, I'll do somewhere between 40 to 45-hour weeks, and that can go up to to around 60 for a week or two when deadlines loom."
Many more similar stories across a wide range of Rockstar studios and disciplines have begun appearing, but also some from ex-staffers noting the horrific conditions endured in order to ship GTA V. With Red Dead Redemption 2 being in development for over six years one interesting note is that many have pointed to recent months not being that intensive - probably a benefit of being given as much time as needed to create something truly impressive.
Still, it's a little weird that Rockstar had to give permission to its employees to speak. Capitalism at its finest.