Months ahead of Red Dead Redemption 2‘s launch in October 2018, reports circulated about intense crunch and unhealthy working conditions at Rockstar Games. Apparently, the studio has been ameliorating such issues since Red Dead 2 hit stores. Chiefly, management is taking steps to reduce the need for excessive amounts of overtime. Other significant changes include more flexible schedules for employees and a much improved work environment.
A report from Kotaku makes note of these claims, outlining an email sent to Rockstar staff by studio executive Jennifer Kolbe. Reportedly, Kolbe’s email provides details the initiatives the studio will put forth to make things better for its workforce. The email reads in part,
We have taken conscious steps to improve our approach to developing games in order to reduce the need for overtime. We realize we still have plenty to do in this area and will continue to take steps so we can more accurately predict and schedule games and DLC in a way that is more sustainable but still allows us the creative flexibility to iterate on the incredibly ambitious and complex games we make.
A host of other changes are on the horizon for 2020, according to the message from Kolbe. They include management and leadership training, anonymous surveys for employees to take part in, more consistent updates about the studio’s future plans, and a concerted effort at better communication.
Allegations of sexual harassment and a generally toxic work environment plagued the company, too. Current employees and former staff members who worked at Rockstar within the past year told Kotaku the climate has improved in recent months. One developer informed the publication that “it does seem like a healthier culture overall. We’ll see in a year or two if I’m pulling my hair out, but it does seem like we’re moving in the right direction for being a company the size we are.”
Due to coronavirus, Rockstar staff are currently working from home. Still, employees are noticing a change in management’s tone. One staffer explained, “they keep emphasizing that it’s normal to not be productive and our focus should be on our health and taking care of our families.” At the very least, things are seemingly changing for the better.