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Rockstar employees were working "100 hour weeks" for RDR 2 [UPDATE: Rockstar's response]

Oct 30, 2017
3,334
California
11 pages in and not a single "it be like that sometimes" post. Proud of you era. yall great people.

Rockstar needs to work on their employee incentives and benefits. Everyone should get like 200hrs of PTO after something like that.
 
Oct 25, 2017
10,837
I agree, a lot of people don't mind working these hours as long as they're being compensated properly for it. That's something we don't know. We also don't know if this has been just a suggestion from the rockstar staff to work overtime if they can. Maybe they had the option to? They also could just be doing it on their own accord saying that they'll be compensated for it, if you do. I know a lot of folks that would do so if they're allowed to.

I think we should see all facets of the story before jumping to conclusion that Rockstar is so horrible for this.
Just because they “don’t mind” doesn’t mean it’s healthy or actually worth it. And on an individual level, just because some of the devs don’t mind doesn’t mean that it’s ok to enforce/promote crunch if there are other devs that do mind.

Companies shouldn’t be able to exploit workers even if some of the workers say it’s fine.
 

Delriach

Designer at Iron Galaxy Studios
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
389
Chicago
Ok wasn't aware of these. If they're forced to do this then yeah that sucks. I feel like there has to be some type of other way they are compensating for this outside of pay. Like a huge amount of paid time off after the game's out or something. Otherwise than yeah I'm amazed how they still stay with it. Maybe just the reputation of rockstar games themselves.
My compensation after my contract was done was "maybe we'll call you back in 3 months, assuming there is work to be done during that time. If not, please be excited for our call at a later time".

I know people who have been going through the grind of a 9 month on and MAYBE 3 months off at a AAA studio for nearly 10 years. I don't know why they do it, personally. I think some of it has to do with the idea of prestige for working for a AAA studio. After my contract was up at my first job I frantically found another job and never thought about going back to the other place again.
 
Nov 27, 2017
662
You know what is also acceptable and less damaging? Proper management of a project so that crunch isn't required.
To play devil's advocate here. I would argue that there's things\variables that aren't able to really be seen that may take a long time to resolve (resolving bugs that end up creating other bugs etc.). I think crunch is pretty unavoidable making video games specifically in respect to those unknown variables which more than likely will always happen.
 

no1

Attempted to circumvent ban with alt account
Member
Apr 27, 2018
954
I mean if it wasn't forced then I sorta applaud them for working so hard on it but they really don't need to push it at 100h weeks, really they could do just 70 at most and delay the game.
 
Oct 27, 2017
211
This is wrong on so many levels and not good at all to the final product. We have crunch time too, and i seriously went above 14 hours/day on two consecutive weeks, but that's so wrong and so many mistakes happen.
 
Oct 25, 2017
4,407
I pulled 100+ hour weeks at my previous job and was tied to my phone for every hour I wasn't working.

It was pure hell and affects every aspect of your life: physical health, mental health, social life. You sleep way worse, eat way worse, exercise very little, socialize basically never. When you work that much, there is no "off" switch, even during the hours where you aren't working. It's simply not enough time to decompress and recharge. It feels like you're working 24 hours a day.

I understand misery is relative and that, from an absolute standpoint, there are far worse things in the world, but it is a soul-crushing feeling to get a new batch of emergency e-mails at 7pm, running off of 4 hours of sleep and some Subway or McDonald's, and then have to respond negatively to the usual "Home for dinner?" text from your spouse. The pointlessness of it all really comes crashing down on you in those little moments.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,143
Over 7 days that's 14 hours per day, which isn't too insane.

How much are their salaries? Do they get overtime during crunch? A nice bonus when the game inevitably gets 99 on MC? Good holidays during normal workload times?

You can't really judge what this means without any of that info.
14 hours of work per day 7 days a week is unethical no matter what pay you have. I even hate that doctors do that shit. And it doesn’t make you more productive, that’s been proven in labor studies. Your position doesn’t have a leg to stand on. That setup is inexcusable except for people like Americans accustomed to poor labor rights who aren’t familiar with how business is done in the rest of the western developed world that does have real labor rights.
 

PMS341

Banned
Member
Oct 29, 2017
2,056
Ok wasn't aware of these. If they're forced to do this then yeah that sucks. I feel like there has to be some type of other way they are compensating for this outside of pay. Like a huge amount of paid time off after the game's out or something. Otherwise than yeah I'm amazed how they still stay with it. Maybe just the reputation of rockstar games themselves.
A huge amount of bonuses for the CEOs, maybe.
 
Oct 26, 2017
106
What I'm saying is you can just quit and work for another company that suits your lifestyle better. Working for the best of the best comes at a price
How many times have you quit your job as an adult with bills and obligations to go find another job that fits your life syle better? Shit isn't easy no matter how many youtube ads you've watched saying "follow your dreams" its BS. Employers treating employees with respect seems like a no brainer nobody should be expected to work 100hr weeks.
 
Oct 25, 2017
579
User Warned: Hostility + personal attacks against another member
Over 7 days that's 14 hours per day, which isn't too insane.

How much are their salaries? Do they get overtime during crunch? A nice bonus when the game inevitably gets 99 on MC? Good holidays during normal workload times?

You can't really judge what this means without any of that info.
You can go fuck the absolute off, you stupid piece of human trash.
 

Mhj

Member
Oct 30, 2017
727
To play devil's advocate here. I would argue that there's things\variables that aren't able to really be seen that may take a long time to resolve (resolving bugs that end up creating other bugs etc.). I think crunch is pretty unavoidable making video games specifically in respect to those unknown variables which more than likely will always happen.
Game development isn’t some special niche in project and/or software management. Its simply part of the culture to abuse (often) young persons who don’t know better. Because everyone is doing it right?
 

Raging Spaniard

Artist at EA Star Wars
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
1,056
Other things to consider:

  • They brag about how they're doing 100 hour weeks, for how long? Last month? 4 months? The entire milestone? The entire 500+ people team?
  • If 100 hour weeks is the exception, then what is the norm? 80 hour weeks? 60? It sure as fuck isn't 40, this stuff is gradual. I wouldn't be surprised if 70/80 hour weeks was the average during the span of production
  • Speaking of the production span, for how long has this been going on? This is about a 5 year dev cycle, how many employees have come and gone though this? How many have quit because of it? Do you think its acceptable to miss you entire kids high school experience because you are at work 12 hours a day, 6 to 7 days a week?

Another thing, if you think these employees are compensated well enough ... then thats naive. Dan Houser is certainly compensated well enough, but the QA thats surely doing 24 hour shifts is probably making very little and if and when the game sells 50 million copies dont think for one second that the team becomes financially wealthy, thats not how it works.
 
Oct 25, 2017
16,212
Ok wasn't aware of these. If they're forced to do this then yeah that sucks. I feel like there has to be some type of other way they are compensating for this outside of pay. Like a huge amount of paid time off after the game's out or something. Otherwise than yeah I'm amazed how they still stay with it. Maybe just the reputation of rockstar games themselves.
There’s a dev on this page explaining why they stay.

Pretty much today’s discussion on Twitter.

 
Jan 12, 2018
267
After a certain point you are creating more bugs than you are fixing, and individual devs are notoriously bad at figuring out what that point is. The 40 hour work week exists for a reason.
 
Oct 29, 2017
3,395
Don’t get too busy making a living to make a life.

I’m guessing there’s some there will be quite willing to work all the hours god sends. I guarantee you there’s plenty that won’t.
 

Mhj

Member
Oct 30, 2017
727
And in the end they will make tons of money off the backs of mentally broken employees who likely reduced their lives by at least a couple of years in pure stress. But it’s all good when you finally boot up the game and behold the well directed intro. That is, until you stumble across the inevitable problems with a Big Bang launch, then it’s all on the developers. Lazy devs.
 
Oct 28, 2017
594
Just got off work and this has been stewing in my head all day. Putting some thoughts out there.

Performance reviews as mentioned were really the worst. There was always a jokey culture around the department of people being fired for not doing overtime, but bosses would always try and frame it as a joke and not reality despite names cropping up of people who HAD been fired for it. I could even look up the previous bug numbers for this person and see that they were pulling just as much as anyone else during our normal contracted hours.

I always felt anxious about my job before a review, sweating like fuck in the review, and still feeling shook after the review. I didn't want to lose the job, I loved working it when things were normal hours (I started there after a big stretch had been finished, so things were normal hours while we awaited new content and basically goofed around to find bugs in old content), we got unprecedented freedom to explore documentation, projects going on around the place, work with dev tools from any department in spare time to make our own stuff and present it, but the insane hours left almost no time for this unless you never left the office.

I had to quit my regular exercise regimen outside of the office when expected overtime became a natural reality (maybe 3 or 4 weeks into the job) because I just didn't have the time, focus or energy for it. After that, we never had a quiet period again, and I never got back into it while there. Just zero time and energy. I'd get bad headaches and nosebleeds at the office quite a lot, probably from staring at the same 3 monitors all day. Just had to stuff my nose full of toilet paper and deal with it, working through it all. Also began cutting corners in my personal time due to needing to catch sleep, like showering at work instead of home, like many other staff. Lots of people in the studio caught veruccas due to some asshat having them and spreading them around. I've still got mine, and its been years now. Treatment hasn't helped there, but there's a funny little thing for you that also gets to me.

Overtime was paid for anyone on a temporary contract (me), time and a half, but anyone on a permanent contract got none as they were salaried, not much more than us either. That was about 2/3rd's of my test team. For us on the temps, our overtime pay was calculated out of kilter with our normal pay. We got paid on the 1st, but OT was calcalated 15th to the 15th, then added to the next pay on the 1st. You could hammer in shitloads of hours of OT in that period, get paid much more than normal, then it all gets taxed heavily, leaving you barely any better off for it. It was absolutely bloody senseless.

We'd get free dinners from a kitchen on overtime, which was very cool, with actual healthy options, but a lot of people decided to use the extra break to continue working at their desk. Despite the healthy options, a lot of the long term members were obese, riddled with physical problems that they'd whine about. At least we had really good chairs for your posture. Also a gym membership you could use at a local gym, but nobody had time for it anyway. A lot used it on their lunch break, but who wants to sacrifice relaxation and eating time to go and work out? Maybe for some its nice, but an actual break is useful as well. Plus it was far away enough that you were screaming there and back, hoping it wouldn't be busy and full of the locals.

Working the assload of extra hours, alongside the pressure, really destroyed my focus. I'd constantly be fidgeting, trying to distract myself during the small gaps (loading a new build, a quick automated test, waiting to get people ready for testing a specific mode in MP, etc), and I found it almost impossible to really relax. If I ever got an evening off, or even a day off, I'd be irritable. I'd snap at my girlfriend when she asked simple stuff, generally just having a rotten mood. I couldn't enjoy playing games anymore, most of my friends had distanced from me due to not being able to meet or even talk to them, and generally I became a recluse. I don't know if I even feel normal from that nowadays despite not working the same job for years. The months upon months I spent being hammered into an anxious fidgety mess is just not fucking worth it.

Long post, but I just want to rant about the fuckin' awful hours that game development studios encourage. Maybe these bosses are OK people outside of work, might be affable and likeable humans, but they should absolutely be crucified for the way they run things otherwise.
 
Oct 27, 2017
205
I hope that all of the big outlets treat this with the attention it deserves. This shouldn’t just be a disclaimer when discussing the game. This is the dicussion.
 
Oct 25, 2017
795
This is absolutely fucking disgusting. I had no interest in RDR2 personally (I kinda actively dislike western setting stuff) but I was going to buy this for my wife, but not anymore. Like, how fucking full of yourself do you have to be to BRAG about this. Abhorrent.
 

Mhj

Member
Oct 30, 2017
727
Just got off work and this has been stewing in my head all day. Putting some thoughts out there.

Performance reviews as mentioned were really the worst. There was always a jokey culture around the department of people being fired for not doing overtime, but bosses would always try and frame it as a joke and not reality despite names cropping up of people who HAD been fired for it. I could even look up the previous bug numbers for this person and see that they were pulling just as much as anyone else during our normal contracted hours.

I always felt anxious about my job before a review, sweating like fuck in the review, and still feeling shook after the review. I didn't want to lose the job, I loved working it when things were normal hours (I started there after a big stretch had been finished, so things were normal hours while we awaited new content and basically goofed around to find bugs in old content), we got unprecedented freedom to explore documentation, projects going on around the place, work with dev tools from any department in spare time to make our own stuff and present it, but the insane hours left almost no time for this unless you never left the office.

I had to quit my regular exercise regimen outside of the office when expected overtime became a natural reality (maybe 3 or 4 weeks into the job) because I just didn't have the time, focus or energy for it. After that, we never had a quiet period again, and I never got back into it while there. Just zero time and energy. I'd get bad headaches and nosebleeds at the office quite a lot, probably from staring at the same 3 monitors all day. Just had to stuff my nose full of toilet paper and deal with it, working through it all. Also began cutting corners in my personal time due to needing to catch sleep, like showering at work instead of home, like many other staff. Lots of people in the studio caught veruccas due to some asshat having them and spreading them around. I've still got mine, and its been years now. Treatment hasn't helped there, but there's a funny little thing for you that also gets to me.

Overtime was paid for anyone on a temporary contract (me), time and a half, but anyone on a permanent contract got none as they were salaried, not much more than us either. That was about 2/3rd's of my test team. For us on the temps, our overtime pay was calculated out of kilter with our normal pay. We got paid on the 1st, but OT was calcalated 15th to the 15th, then added to the next pay on the 1st. You could hammer in shitloads of hours of OT in that period, get paid much more than normal, then it all gets taxed heavily, leaving you barely any better off for it. It was absolutely bloody senseless.

We'd get free dinners from a kitchen on overtime, which was very cool, with actual healthy options, but a lot of people decided to use the extra break to continue working at their desk. Despite the healthy options, a lot of the long term members were obese, riddled with physical problems that they'd whine about. At least we had really good chairs for your posture. Also a gym membership you could use at a local gym, but nobody had time for it anyway. A lot used it on their lunch break, but who wants to sacrifice relaxation and eating time to go and work out? Maybe for some its nice, but an actual break is useful as well. Plus it was far away enough that you were screaming there and back, hoping it wouldn't be busy and full of the locals.

Working the assload of extra hours, alongside the pressure, really destroyed my focus. I'd constantly be fidgeting, trying to distract myself during the small gaps (loading a new build, a quick automated test, waiting to get people ready for testing a specific mode in MP, etc), and I found it almost impossible to really relax. If I ever got an evening off, or even a day off, I'd be irritable. I'd snap at my girlfriend when she asked simple stuff, generally just having a rotten mood. I couldn't enjoy playing games anymore, most of my friends had distanced from me due to not being able to meet or even talk to them, and generally I became a recluse. I don't know if I even feel normal from that nowadays despite not working the same job for years. The months upon months I spent being hammered into an anxious fidgety mess is just not fucking worth it.

Long post, but I just want to rant about the fuckin' awful hours that game development studios encourage. Maybe these bosses are OK people outside of work, might be affable and likeable humans, but they should absolutely be crucified for the way they run things otherwise.
For your own sake, please quit. It’s not worth it for having your name in a credits list.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,210
UK
Yes, well most employers aren't paying staff £70k a year base salary and all living expenses. That's how Rockstar gets away with it, and staff stay. Not saying it's right of course.

you think thats how much R* North, in Edinburgh pays their average designer programmer and artist.

M8 i work in London and dont get anywhere near that.
 
Oct 25, 2017
2,080
Some of the responses in this thread are amazingly unbelievable.

In my first year in the industry I had seen some really crazy stuff. One toll I've seen was our lead producer literally disappearing near the last 3 months or so of development. The last time I saw him, it was when I was passing by his office at 3am and he was laying on the ground (nothing that required serious medical attention). We mysteriously got a replacement producer and were given no explanation.

That same year, I was once testing a popular unreleased mobile game just for a single day while the devs worked on some major fixes for the console game. I was given an iPad and that iPad started receiving iMessages. It started off with "are you coming home for dinner?" I ignored it at first and just kept playing.

But then the messages started getting more and more intense. The significant other was stunned that not only was her husband not coming home for dinner, but he was once again traveling for an extended period of time, which according to her was not supposed to happen anymore. Shortly after, she started explaining the toll this was having on her and her kid. Literally talking about missing their kids first steps. Then she ended things by showing a picture of their child and saying that she's done and wants to call things off.

Those messages all happened within a very very short span of time so it was difficult to not see everything unfold. It was absolutely mindblowing seeing it all break down so quickly in a way that seems like it was written as a PSA. But it was real.
holy shit
 
Oct 28, 2017
594
For your own sake, please quit. It’s not worth it for having your name in a credits list.
I don't work there anymore. I was let go. It was the strangest feeling. I felt terrified to go, as I was supporting my girlfriend with the job and was the only income in the house while she studied. I had no savings because low pay, probably just enough to survive a couple of months, but then I landed another job in an unrelated field, and I've been happily cruising since then.
 
Oct 25, 2017
5,277
What I'm saying is you can just quit and work for another company that suits your lifestyle better. Working for the best of the best comes at a price
This is only the case in the videogame sector of software development.

The best of the best software companies have a sane work/life balance, and for the most part, they pay much more than the videogame sector of the software industry. As a software engineer, who works very normal 35-40 hour weeks, and usually doesn't have much crunch at all, and gets paid very competitively, I'm always eager to tell videogame developers to branch out to other parts of the industry where you'll get paid more, with better benefits, and not have crunch.
 
Oct 30, 2017
207
Before they started cracking down on CDL vehicles in America, it was not uncommon for those driving 80,000 pound big trucks to push 90 plus hours a week. Years ago, I worked in a field that required driving a big truck, and I never put in less than 70 hours a week, and flirted with 100 a few times. I was young, and was able to do it, but if I am being honest, it is lucky I did not kill a family driving off the road. At the very least it put a huge strain on my marriage and my relationship with my children.

At the the time I thought I was doing the right thing for my family. The truth was I was being exploited by my company, and worked well past what is fair. The government stepped in and capped the hours of work to 60 or 70 for CDL jobs (depending on a few things) which really helped, but there are still people on the road, who should not be behind the wheel because they are not getting enough rest. (physical and mental)

The truth is crunch time should only be for times of emergencies. Making sure a game comes out on time...that will end up making BILLIONS... is in no fucking way an emergency.
 
Nov 27, 2017
662
My compensation after my contract was done was "maybe we'll call you back in 3 months, assuming there is work to be done during that time. If not, please be excited for our call at a later time".

I know people who have been going through the grind of a 9 month on and MAYBE 3 months off at a AAA studio for nearly 10 years. I don't know why they do it, personally. I think some of it has to do with the idea of prestige for working for a AAA studio. After my contract was up at my first job I frantically found another job and never thought about going back to the other place again.
Oh wow man that is horrible. Sorry to hear that. That is crazy. I wasn't aware how cut throat this industry can be. (telletale and other recent dev news aside)

Game development isn’t some special niche in project and/or software management. Its simply part of the culture to abuse (often) young persons who don’t know better. Because everyone is doing it right?
I didn't mean to say that it ONLY happens with games, Of course it definitely happens with software/computers since that's just the nature of working with computers in general(I work in IT). Just considering the deadlines for video games specifically was the only reason I emphasized games. Studied a bit of project management and i believe that refers to as "creep" but yeah i was just saying that I feel it's kinda unavoidable to make a project deadline without something being sacrificed whether it be the quality of the game,time devs put into the game, or the date the game releases being pushed back. It seems like a middle ground nowadays is to release the game at the deadline with known bugs (maybe not too common or game-breaking) and then resolve those down the line. I feel that it's worked for the most part with a few exceptions, but it's an improvement.

There’s a dev on this page explaining why they stay.

Pretty much today’s discussion on Twitter.

yeah I was highly considering going in game development, but just always hearing stuff like this in news (and realizing that I love playing them more than creating them) turned me off. I really do hope this gets unionized eventually. Of course this will probably delay some games, but i'm totally fine with that if it creates a more enjoyable work/life balance for game devs which in turn may result in even better games themselves.
 
Oct 27, 2017
25
While I do not condone or encourage this type of behavior, this is nothing new. This is a problem with software development in general. (in my opinion)

You have business and marketing people trying to make up budgets, plans, get the hype going and make commitments that they have no idea about way too early. Devs, QA, BAs all get squeezed to try and make the commitments that other people made on their behalf. It gets worse when you try and run an agile shop and are constantly making scope cuts and end up with an MVP (minimal viable product) of your MVP. Don't even get me started on end to end validation and release management.

Companies need to better manage expectations of their consumer base and the media. It seems to me CD Projekt Red has a decent handle on this with their non committal attitude and not showing off things until they have made good progress.

It is a slippery slope too, the larger the company is. They will always want to show the latest and greatest.
 
Oct 30, 2017
1,084
I don't think you can work 7 days a week in the UK. That would be highly illegal. So either way its still pretty ridiculous.
Yea you can, there's a law where you're only supposed to work 48 hours per week, but you can opt out if you want to do more, before that I worked 12 hours per day 7 days a week as a Security guard, I think I ended up doing 43 days straight before a day off (to be fair, I wanted some money saved and this paid well enough to set me up to go to University)

Edit: And to add, I got a Bachlors Degree in Video Game and Software Development, after hearing so many bad stories I decided to focus on Software dev. more, better pay for less hours really
 
Oct 27, 2017
101
"San Diego"
This is all too typical in video game development, I hope stories like this can lead to better worker union rights but it's so frustrating to know that this industry leans on exploitation like this to thrive.