Updated: Video game industry and tech insiders are calling out Rockstar Games after co-founder Dan Houser said in an interview that the team behind “Red Dead Redemption 2” sometimes worked 100-hour weeks.
“We were working 100-hour weeks,” Rockstar’s Dan Houser said, referring to multiple occurrences this year, in an interview with Vulture. The wide-ranging interview also noted that the game will include “300,000 animations, 500,000 lines of dialogue, and many more lines of code.”
But in a statement sent to Variety Monday afternoon, Houser wrote that he was speaking about himself and a team of three others and that the company would never expect anyone else to work that way.
The response to the story Monday morning from those in the game industry ranges from outrage that a studio as powerful and profitable as Rockstar is overworking its developers, to those using the comment to note that the issue of “crunch” is a major problem in the multi-billion-dollar game industry.
“Imagine bragging about pushing your workers to 100h+ weeks while also claiming to be proud of how sensible your work practices are,” tweeted David Heinemeier Hansson, author, creator of Ruby on Rails and founder of Basecamp. “Especially on a sequel to an original game that brought the families of workers to plead with management for leniency.”
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Mike Bithell, developer of “Thomas Was Alone,” and “Subsurface Circular,” spent several Tweets Monday morning noting some of the bad work practices in the video game industry.
“If I ever boast about my team having to do overtime because I can’t manage them properly, and actually use that as a selling point, please screencap this tweet and send it to me hundreds of times until I depart this godforsaken website in shame,” he also tweeted.
Peter Stewart, a writer and narrative designer at Creative Assembly, pointed out that “crunch,” the practice of working long, often-unpaid hours of overtime to wrap up a game, is often glamorized and shouldn’t be.
“This needs to stop being a point of pride, no matter how bittersweet you make it sound,” he tweeted. “I don’t want devs to work 100-hour weeks, even if the end result is a game of the year. No game is worth that kind of burnout.”
Dylan Wildman, who worked at Rockstar Games in 2012 as a quality assurance tester, called himself a “survivor of ‘GTA V’ crunch,” and noted that it was “hell.”
“To put it simply, the real people who help make the games are the nameless, faceless people you’ll never know of,” he added in another tweet. “The studio bigwigs will come out and sing praise about their product, but they won’t be the people putting in the soul-destroying hours to make the masterpiece games.”
Other industry veterans like “God of War” developer Cory Barlog and voice actor Troy Baker simply noted stories about the quote, prompting discussion on the topic.
The reaction of some potential players seem mostly negative on Twitter as well, with some calling for a boycott of the game and others wondering why Rockstar or parent company Take-Two didn’t simply hire more employees to cut down on the need for so much overtime. Some of that reaction came in the form of satirical reworks of the game’s main art, like the image posted on Twitter by I Am Happy Toast.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” releases on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on Oct. 26. Rockstar Games did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment.