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Rockstar Games: Grand Theft Auto 6 developers ordered back to office

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Rockstar Games, known for creating the popular Grand Theft Auto series, has informed its employees that they must work in the office five days a week starting in April, as reported by Bloomberg.

A division of Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar revealed in November 2024 that Grand Theft Auto 6 was in the works, even though leaks as far back as September 2022 had pretty much confirmed the game’s development.

This decision by Rockstar is driven by concerns about leaks and the necessity for enhanced productivity and concentration. In an email to staff, Jenn Kolbe, Rockstar’s Head of Publishing, highlighted security and productivity as the main reasons. Kolbe mentioned in the email, “By implementing these changes now, we are positioning ourselves to deliver the next Grand Theft Auto at the level of excellence and refinement we know it demands, alongside a publishing plan that matches the game’s scope and ambition.”

Aside from prior leaks, the Grand Theft Auto 6 trailer was leaked just before its official launch date. This incident disappointed Rockstar, but fortunately, it didn’t impact the launch negatively – audiences loved the trailer. It was later discovered that a British teenager was responsible for leaking the trailer from a hotel room.

The Crunch Culture at Rockstar Games

While the desire to prevent further leaks during the final development stage is reasonable, the productivity aspect of the reasoning may raise concerns. The debate around working from home versus working in the office is divisive, often split between employees stating they are more efficient at home and managers noting higher productivity levels in the office. Enforcing crunch (mandatory overtime) becomes notably more challenging when employees work remotely.

Rockstar is infamous for its crunch culture, with employees frequently working over 100 hours per week before the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2. Considering the volatile state of the gaming industry (with numerous studios announcing massive layoffs and game cancellations), it becomes easier to pressure those still employed into enduring harsh work conditions.

Fear that your studio and job could be next in line compels developers to do more with less. Given the emphasis on “productivity,” it’s hard not to interpret this as an indication that Rockstar is using it as a pretext to ensure Grand Theft Auto 6 meets its planned release schedule.

Rockstar Games has offices in the USA, UK, and India. It is not clear if the mandatory return-to-office policy applies to all employees.

A UK-based Rockstar Games employee, requesting anonymity, expressed to Readwrite.com: “There are rumors that it’s a soft mass layoff” and by making conditions harsher, people may resign “without receiving any severance.”

Rockstar Games has been contacted for a statement.

Featured image credit: Rockstar Games

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