Rockstar devs report improvements for crunch culture and a GTA that isn’t ‘perfect’

Rockstar Games has apparently undergone a significant transformation over the past few years to move away from its history of crisis, staff burnout, and lackluster content.

Bloomberg spoke with 20 current or recently departed employees, all on condition of anonymity, who report that the company has new structures in place specifically to avoid overtime and has even reduced the scope of its long-awaited Grand Theft Auto 6.

In fact, coaches have reportedly been promising for four years that excessive overtime won’t be required to finish the game.

A Rockstar spokesman declined to comment.

According to the report, Rockstar has:

  • Completely restructured its design department
  • The way schedules are managed has changed
  • Temporary contractors became full-time workers
  • A new ‘flex time’ policy has been introduced which allows staff to take time off for each additional hour they work
  • Added more producers to track schedules. This has been generally well received, but has led to some bottlenecks in terms of working pipelines.

The company has also fired several managers who staff reported were abusive or difficult to work with as part of efforts to make Rockstar a more progressive and compassionate workplace, with one employee claiming the studio is now “a boys club turned into a real business.”

The changes, combined with the impact of the pandemic and the transition caused by the departure of co-founder Dan Houser in 2019, are the reason why Grand Theft Auto 6 has been in the works for so long, and development has begun time 2014.

GTA 6 was originally to be developed across large areas of both North and South America, according to Bloomberg sources in an effort to make it the biggest entry in the series to date.

To reduce overtime, the game has been reduced to a fictional version of Miami, probably the fan favorite setting of Vice City, and the surrounding areas, with plans to expand the game over time.

In addition to more missions and activities, Rockstar is said to be adding entire cities on a regular basis in order to avoid the crunch in recent months. Sources are unclear on when Rockstar plans to release the game.

While the series is famous for its “no holds barred” satirical humor, developers report that the studio is now careful not to “attack” with jokes aimed at marginalized groups in light of how the political and social climate has changed since of 2013.

The staff isn’t sure how Grand Theft Auto’s humor could be adapted to today’s world, with some noting that while the series has already satirized America, the nation is increasingly becoming a satire of itself. .

Rockstar will also introduce a female playable character for the first time, with Grand Theft Auto 6 giving players control of a Latina woman as one of two protagonists in a story inspired by the infamous gangster Bonnie and Clyde.

Sources say there were two decisive factors that inspired these changes.

The first is the backlash against Rockstar Games after reports of a major crash in Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018. Dan Houser said in an interview at the time that the team had been “working 100-hour weeks” and the impact of the crisis on Rockstar was explored in an extensive report by shortly after.

The other was the 2020 killing of George Floyd by a police officer, which Bloomberg’s sources say caused the developer to decide to cancel a planned Cops ‘n’ Crooks mode for Grand Theft Auto Online, no current plans to bring it back.

The studio has also demonstrated the changes by removing transphobic jokes from Grand Theft Auto 5 for its release on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Earlier this year, we reported that the company has even narrowed its gender pay gap: In 2018, it had the largest average pay gap in the business at 34.4%, down from 13.8% in 2021.

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