Readers might recall a rather infamous episode related to Rockstar Games and the treatment of its devs during the creation of Red Dead Redemption 2: It all started when studio co-founder Dan Houser boasted that devs were working 100-hour work weeks to get the title out of the door, setting off backlash among fans, statements from other studios, and finally Houser leaving the company in March 2020, followed by culture changes within the company that were reportedly making slow but steady progress.
Fast forward to today and the development of the next mainline title in the Grand Theft Auto series, as Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier has published a piece suggesting real improvement within the company. According to his sources, the design department has been completely restructured, scheduling is being handled better, temp contractors are being made full-time employees, and devs are being given a “flexitime” policy that lets staff take time off for every extra hour they work. In addition, multiple managers that were reported as abusive have been dismissed.
As one employee summarizes, Rockstar is now “a boys’ club transformed into a real company.”
Features of GTA 6 have also been handled well according to devs. The company has scaled back from its original aspirations of making entire sections of North and South America; it’s now focused on a fictional version of Miami and surrounding areas instead, adding more cities on a regular basis instead of at the last few months of development. The content of the game’s satire is also being praised by devs, who argue that the humor isn’t “punching down” at marginalized groups. All in all, it appears that so far Rockstar developers are being treated like humans.