Rockstar Games relaxes social media rules, staff speaks on Dan Houser's "100-hour" work week

Overtime seems optional for the staff, but not all departments get that choice.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 is a massive game that likely required a few extra hours of work from employees, but Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser shed an unfortunate spotlight on the game when he stated that it took 100-hour work weeks to bring it to life. In addition to clarifying that statement, Rockstar has given staff permission to speak on their work experiences and those speaking publicly are painting a positive picture for the Rockstar work experience, while one anonymous employee says that departments are treated differently.

Dan Houser later clarified that only a few on the writing team managed such a workload and that overtime is optional. Essentially echoing this, Tools Programmer Vivianne Langdon revealed that she's "never worked more than maybe 50 hours a week" and, when she has, it's been a rare occurrence. She added, via a Twitter thread on her personal account, that her two to six hours of paid overtime per week are typically the result of her being in the zone and not wanting to stop before finishing a tricky problem.

One anonymous employee told VG247 that it was "frustrating" seeing the 100-hour work week comment spun into Rockstar being a "hellish place to work." The same source goes on to say that the team is "rewarded very well and crunch is never mandatory." Another anonymous employee, though, says not all experiences at Rockstar Games are equal:

"Hey, just going to (anonymously) add my piece as a Rockstar Employee. Not every studio gets paid overtime. We certainly don't. Other departments may not feel forced but I doubt you'll see many tweets from Design or QA. The average from all departments makes OT not look  too bad but I've done 50+ hour weeks as standard since I started. Even if there is no work, we are told to come in every weekend anyway. I believe the people are being honest when they tweet but they can only speak for themselves. Just needed that off my chest."

While it seems things are certainly not as bad as the takes based on Houser's 100-hour work week, at least not for everyone, there seems to be a few things that could still improve. Even the staff member complaining alludes to the majority having solid structure, so maybe this whirlwind will push Rockstar Games to become the example to other major studios in the gaming industry.

Red Dead Redemption 2 launches October 26, 2018, on PS4 and Xbox One. In November, Red Dead Online will go live in beta test form. Stay tuned to Shacknews for additional updates.

News Editor

Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

From The Chatty

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    October 18, 2018 9:15 AM

    Charles Singletary Jr posted a new article, Rockstar Games relaxes social media rules, staff speaks on Dan Houser's "100-hour" work week

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      October 18, 2018 9:41 AM

      Yeah, I'm sure people who feel pressured to work long hours will be first in line to complain about it openly on Twitter.

      Also 50 hours is still too many if you ask me. That's 10 hour days or one day weekends.

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        October 18, 2018 10:28 AM

        One day weekends according to that anonymous twitter poster - even when there's no work to do. And no OT in his department. So yeah, that sounds like bullshit

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      October 18, 2018 9:48 AM

      I used to work there and I didn't work all those hours. It was the QA team that put in the most hours and those guys got treated well/handsomly in the end. Sure there was long hours or weekend work occasionally but nothing more then everywhere else I've worked. I really have nothing but positive things to say about that place and I miss the staff, mostly Sam. The grass is always greener on the other side.

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        October 18, 2018 11:25 AM

        Thank you for sharing. Seems to line up with what the second anonymous staff member was saying, without the handsome compensation part.

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          October 18, 2018 11:35 AM

          tbh it seems like a lot of the positive stories were coming out of the Rockstar studios in Europe, and very few positive stories coming out of the US based studios. iirc that spouse letter back during the time the first RDR came out was from the San Diego studio, too.

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            October 18, 2018 12:30 PM

            That makes sense, considering Europe generally has far better employee protections.

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      October 18, 2018 10:58 AM

      !!!!!ONE MORE WEEK!!!!!

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      October 18, 2018 12:29 PM

      Counterpoint: https://twitter.com/JennSandercock/status/1052252298070581249

      30 minutes once a week for cake, decompression, and cross-team interaction? Unacceptable! Stop wasting time!

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        October 18, 2018 12:36 PM

        Wasn't Team Bondi a shit show in its own right?

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          October 18, 2018 12:48 PM

          Apparently, and Rockstar's guidance was apparently an improvment, but "this is less shitty" can still be pretty shitty.