An anonymous Rockstar QA tester working at Rockstar Lincoln revealed that following a meeting today overtime will no longer be mandatory, but questions remain over how exactly overtime functions over at Rockstar.
Rockstar has been in the news lately not just because Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming out next week, but also because of recent comments made by company co-founder Dan Houser who mentioned Rockstar employees have been working 100-hour weeks. While Houser clarified that he was referring to select senior staff, questions regarding Rockstar's work practices, which have been previously reported on, began to surface.
Rockstar later allowed staff members to speak and share openly about their experiences working overtime at the company, and while some Rockstar employees have shared publicly on social media their experiences Rockstar is a big company with multiple branches. Which leads to today's Reddit post by a verified anonymous QA tester working at Rockstar Lincoln, reportedly one of the Rockstar studios hit hardest with crunch.
In their post speaking as "RockstarThroaway448" they said that after a recent meeting overtime has been made completely optional whereas it was mandatory before.
"[O]vertime is NOT optional, it is expected of us. If we are not able to work overtime on a certain day without a good reason, you have to make it up on another day."
Other details from their post include how QA testers typically work through lunch or dinner hours despite not getting paid for them. "This means that a standard full day is 7.5 hours paid and 8.5 hours actual, with an overtime day being 10 hours paid and 11.5 hours actual."
The poster says that after a "big meeting today" it was announced that overtime going forward will be entirely optional. "So if we want to work the extra hours and earn the extra money (As well as make yourself look better for progression) then we can do, but there is no longer a rule making us do it."
"This is huge for us here in Lincoln as many of us haven't been able to take full weekends without paying for it in a long time and it's a giant step forward in making crunch less of a hell to deal with."
In a statement to Kotaku Rockstar publishing head Jenn Kolbe said overtime worked a little differently than the Reddit post saying that overtime was always mandatory. "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."
Rockstar's long work hours have gone as far back as development on the original Red Dead Redemption as shared by the Rockstar Spouse incident. In a time where many are talking about labor conditions in the video game industry it'll be interesting to see how one of the industry's largest players responds to questions about healthy workplace practices.