Kotaku has reported
from sources that there's been a pivot within Rockstar
's four walls (of which there are many), whereby the studio(s) have looked to shift so-called "crunch culture" to one of time-management, realistic expectation and, above all else, welfare-first business.
A lot of reports, innuendo and rumour emerged from various parts of the business through Red Dead Redemption 2
's development, while Rockstar
's very own Dan Houser left the building last month
. And according to the Kotaku piece, he's not the first senior person severing ties or being asked to step down at the mega-developer.
Rockstar’s leaders have told employees that they hope to mitigate crunch on the next big project by improving their technology pipelines and planning out more of the game’s beats in advance. One belief shared by Rockstar employees is that Dan Houser’s departure will lead to fewer last-minute rewrites and overhauls—the type that led to a great deal of overtime on Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar has also implemented “flexitime” scheduling for many employees, allowing them to work variable hours based on their preferences and needs.
One plan that management has laid out for the next game, a new entry in the Grand Theft Auto series, is to start out with a moderately sized release (which, by Rockstar’s standards, would still be a large game) that is then expanded with regular updates over time, which may help mitigate stress and crunch.
It should be highlighted that a lot of this information is source-based and not official, so take it with a grain of salt, but that they're working on the "next project" while allegedly implementing new ways to go about it, is something we're happy to hear. Games of the quality of Red Dead and Grand Theft Auto are, after all, worth the wait.