Rockstar breaks silence on crunch accusations

Rockstar breaks silence on crunch accusations
Michael French

By Michael French

January 22nd 2010 at 12:39AM

Studio 'always tried to maintain a supportive creative environment' but admits to 'challenges'

Rockstar Games has finally spoken on the record about accusations that the working atmosphere at its San Diego studio were cruch-heavy.

A statement posted on its official reader response blog conceded that there are 'challenges' in games development, but that it was 'saddened' some staff felt under too much pressure.

The company responsible for games including Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt and Bully added that its managment does its best to fully support the teams it employs 'in every way that we can'. (Full statement can be found towards the end of this article.)

Accusations against the firm first emerged earlier this month when 'Wives of Rockstar San Diego' posted an anonymous letter on Gamasutra claiming the studio was forcing its staff work 12-hour days as deadlines neared on Red Dead Redemption.

“In the last years, there have also been many cuts on benefits despite the increasing demands on employees,” the anonymous author said.

The comments echoed the EA Spouse scandal of 2004 which levelled similar accusations at Electronic Arts' California studios.

'EA Spouse' herself Erin Hoffman, now a board member of the IGDA, spoke out against Rockstar as part of the resulting San Diego furore.

The IGDA eventually issued a statement which said overtime in general in the industry was 'exploitative' of games developers.

Throughout, however, Rockstar had kept quiet - not commenting when the press, Develop included, asked for the studio management's take on the matter - until today.

Answering a reader question on the official Rockstar blog, a statement read:

"Red Dead Redemption is coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 27th 2010 (April 30th in Europe) - and we could not be more excited with how the game is looking and playing as it nears the end of development. 

"As for the stories spreading around the internet, yes we have noticed them. Unfortunately, this is a case of people taking the opinions of a few anonymous posters on message boards as fact. No business is ever perfect, but Rockstar Games is a tight knit team made up of around 900 supremely talented and motivated professionals, many of whom have worked here for a very long time.

"We’re saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs, but the vast majority of our company are focused solely on delivering cutting edge interactive entertainment.  We’ve always cared passionately about the people working here, and have always tried to maintain a supportive creative environment. There is simply no way Rockstar could continue to produce such large scale, high quality games without this.

"That being said, making great games is very challenging, which is why we have and will continue to try to keep hold of some of the best talent in the industry and support them in every way we can."

It's not likely the statement will satisfy Rockstar's most vehement of critics, but the matter has forced the industry to talk about one of its guiltier secrets. Click here to read our recent Develop Jury on how uppaid overtime and crunch impacts developers.