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Rockstar’s Culture Overhaul Could Lead Games Industry to Eradicate Crunch

Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:49 PM
Max Moeller
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:49 PM
  • Rockstar is restructuring its approach to game development.
  • Employees are optimistic, for now.
  • Could Rockstar become a leading example for other studios to follow?

Rockstar has actually followed through on its commitments to building a better company culture.

You may remember late last 2018 when news of Rockstar’s awful crunch culture broke out  just before the release of Red Dead Redemption 2. In one instance, the team added hours of nights and weekends to add cinematic black bars to already finished cutscenes. Employees claimed this had been going on for years.

rockstar red dead redemption 2
The game looks gorgeous, but at what cost? | Source: Steam 

Since that went public, Rockstar has committed to changing their ways. A new Kotaku piece details what happened .

Rockstar is Progressing Slowly

Cultural changes included scheduling extra time off, more communication, and management training. Now, employees state Rockstar execs are “running the company like a company,” which is good to hear so far.

Others say that while the changes have been good, there’s no proof that they’ll last. “We’ll see in a year or two if I’m pulling my hair out,” another worker notes.

The most notable improvement, however, seems to be getting rid of bad managers, whether through firing or training. “There are still bad eggs around,” an employee claims, “but it feels like their days are numbered.”

Rockstar Grand Theft Auto
Will Rockstar fall back to its old ways as they get closer to GTA VI’s release? | Source: The Leaker 

It was under these managers that overtime was all but optional. Employees were made to feel essentially useless if they weren’t dedicating all of their time to work. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

The real question is if this culture change will last. Crunch is unavoidable in game development, but there are ways around it. Hiring out work to contractors and smarter scheduling are two ways to start.

A Potential Industry Idol

The games industry is rife with crunch. Developers both big and small subject themselves to the unhealthy work ethic, whether intentional or not. However, if a company as big as Rockstar can turn itself around, this could be a massive inspiration for others as well.

The Last of Us Naughty Dog
“The Last of Us” developer Naughty Dog has also fallen victim to crunch. Can they pull a Rockstar? | Source: PlayStation 

Nintendo is an excellent example  of a healthy company culture, despite what rabid fanboys may claim. While it’s impossible to avoid crunch altogether, they bring on additional employees instead of asking the current ones to work for weeks straight. Former Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime says it’s best to lead by example. If they can do it, so can Rockstar. And from there, so can other studios around the world.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.