Jason Schreier has reported on workplace improvements that have happened at Rockstar over the last three years. One employee described the changes as a “boys’ club transformed into a real company.” But some devs are skeptical about the future of GTA.
A new Bloomberg report is based on more than 20 interviews with current and former employees. All of them preferred to stay anonymous.
Improving workplace culture and fighting crunch
- Rockstar’s so-called frat-boy culture was built around “drinking, brawling and excursions to strip clubs,” according to the sources.
- Crunch was another problem, which led to burnout and staff attrition. In 2018, prior to the Red Dead Redemption 2 launch, hundreds of employees opened up about this issue for the first time.
- Rockstar’s big games like RDR 2 or Max Payne 3 required months of mandatory 14-hour workdays, or what devs describe as “death marches”. This schedule also included working on weekends.
- In 2018, Rockstar decided to make some changes to its culture and internal processes. The management promised that GTA VI won’t require excessive overtime.
- To fight crunch, the company changed scheduling and allowed employees to immediately take time off for every extra hour of work.
- Rockstar reportedly converted contractors to full-time positions and hired more producers to keep track of schedules.
- The company also made changes to its management structure, getting rid of several leaders who were accused of abusive or toxic behavior.
- After the departure of design director Imran Sarwar, Rockstar hired three other directors. This change, however, led to a lot of confusion, where design decisions would contradict one another.
What will the new GTA look like?
- According to the report, GTA VI was code-named Project Americas. Rockstar initially planned to make it bigger than any other GTA game, adding territories spanning North and South America.
- The world map has since been cut to a fictional version of Miami and its surrounding areas.
- Schreier says that GTA VI will include a playable female character for the first time in the series’ history. A Latina woman will play one of two main roles in a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired story.
- Rockstar also reportedly changed its approach to in-game humor, trying to not joke about marginalized groups anymore.
- The company wants to continually update the game with new content post-launch. The leadership thinks that it will prevent crunch during the final months of development.
- However, some employees are not sure that a modern, upgraded Rockstar will be able to beat the records set by GTA V. Despite all the workplace improvements, the game’s development is going slower than expected.
- Some employees are still trying to figure out how to make games under new conditions and wonder what a new GTA will look like in today’s environment.
- According to several analysts, GTA VI might come out in Take-Two’s 2024 fiscal year (ending March 31, 2024). However, developers interviewed by Bloomberg remain skeptical, with some employees saying the game is at least two years away.