The Red Dead Redemption 2 scandal continues as a member of staff at Rockstar Games Lincoln debunks the company's recent statement that overtime is optional. The upcoming open-world Western is a sprawling adventure, and it seems that plenty of blood, sweat, and tears has gone into making Red Redemption 2.
Red Dead Redemption 2 already looks like it will be one of 2018's biggest games, but allegations of staff working 100-hour weeks has marred the game's long-awaited release. The issue of Rockstar's extreme working schedule arose when co-founder Dan Houser mentioned 100-hour weeks. Although he later tried to clarify that this was only for a particular three-week stint, a number of stories emerged that this was the norm at the company.
Allegations of mandatory overtime have become commonplace as Rockstar tries to calm the media storm of unfair working conditions. Rockstar's head of publishing, Jenn Kolbe, spoke to Kotaku and claimed that any overtime is purely optional but the company will readdress the system moving forward:
"Through the conversations we’ve been having it is clear to us that the requested scheduled overtime felt like an obligation to some, if not many, of the team. We therefore spoke to them to make sure it is clear that the OT is not mandatory.”
Considering Red Dead Redemption 2 will focus on a 60-hour campaign, it isn't hard to imagine the mammoth task of developing such a rich world and covering every little detail. With horse testicles even shrinking in the cold weather, it's clear developers at Rockstar have left no stone unturned when it comes to crafting a rich and realistic experience.
Alongside Kolbe's comments, a verified QA tester known as RockstarThrowaway448 posted on Reddit to add more claims to the fire. The QA tester pointed out that they can only comment on the situation at Rockstar Lincoln in the UK, but highlighted that overtime was definitely not optional. In the lengthy statement, RockstarThrowaway confirmed they work an average week of 48.75 paid hours (56 actual), which has risen in recent months to the likes of 57.5 paid hours (65 actual) and 70 paid hours (81.5 actual). It isn't quite Houser's 100-hour week, but it doesn't paint Rockstar in a particularly positive light.
Worryingly, RockstarThrowaway448 suggests that while all overtime is paid for and staff aren't expected to work through their lunch break, anyone who didn't oblige to the old overtime system was forced to make up the hours on another day. The news of an overtime overhaul may sound like a positive step, but RockstarThrowaway448 also hints that those who want to progress quickest in the company will have to take on as much overtime as possible.
Rockstar will hopefully learn from the mistakes of Red Dead Redemption 2 when it moves forward with the likes of Grand Theft Auto VI and any future games. That being said, there is a history of staff controversy after similar claims of overworking were made back in 2010 and 2013 with Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto V. Either way, Rockstar is keen to move on from the latest overtime issue and put the whole mess behind it to focus on Red Dead Redemption 2.