Rockstar says average work week under 46 hours

"We will not stop working to improve in this area," says co-head of Red Dead Redemption 2 developer

Rockstar continued its pushback against criticisms of crunch culture at the studio today, as Rockstar North studio co-head Rob Nelson told The Guardian that the Red Dead Redemption 2 developer has been making progress in that area.

The studio provided statistics stating that from the beginning of the year through the end of September, the average working week across the entire Rockstar studio system was between 42.4 and 45.8 hours. Work week length peaked in mid-July when the average week was 50.1 hours, with 20% of employees reporting working 60 hours or more, up to 67.1 hours. Those figures were based on employees' self-reported hours, the studio said.

"We're growing as fast as we can, and we're structuring our departments based on need, because we don't want people working too hard," Nelson said. "Do people work hard and is there overtime and extra effort put in? Yes, there is. Is it something we want happening regularly for long periods of time or as an accepted part of our process or as a 'badge of honour' thing? No, it is not. We are always trying to improve how we are working and balance what we are making with how we make it and we will not stop working to improve in this area."

Rockstar has been under fire this week after a feature article on Vulture included co-founder Dan Houser talking about working 100-hour weeks multiple times this year. Houser later clarified that he meant a core writing team of four people had been working 100-hour weeks, and that it's up to individual developers to choose whether they want to put in "that additional effort."

A number of former employees publicly contradicted Houser's characterization of overtime at Rockstar, among them former PR person Job Stauffer saying on Twitter, "I can assure you that during the GTA IV era, it was like working with a gun to your head 7 days a week." Rockstar then informed its current employees that the were permitted to weigh in on the subject on Twitter, and a number of them have since posted in the studio's defence.

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Latest comments (2)

Rockstar North is one of the 8-9 development studios under Rockstar Games that worked on RDR2.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada24 days ago
@AbdulBasit Saliu: The data provided is said to be "the average working week across the entire Rockstar studio system was between 42.4 and 45.8 hours" though, so not just RSN data.

I'm disappointed they provided the average for the data though, and not the median. A relatively small number of high or low counts can skew an average more, whereas what we're mostly interested in is the "average" experience of a developer.
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