Rockstar Games under fire for forcing devs to work in office - Hindustan Times

Rockstar Games under fire for forcing devs to work in office amid GTA 6 development

Mar 01, 2024 02:05 PM IST

Rockstar Games faces employee revolt as it enforces a controversial full-time office return over security and quality concern for upcoming GTA 6.

Rockstar Games is facing backlash from its employees and the gaming industry over its decision to require all staff to work in the office full-time starting in April.

Rockstar Games faces backlash over return-to-office policy (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP)(AFP)
Rockstar Games faces backlash over return-to-office policy (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP)(AFP)

The gaming giant claims that this move is necessary to ensure the quality and security of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto 6, which is reportedly in the final stages of development.

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But, many developers are not convinced by this rationale. In an email to employees, Rockstar Games’ head of publishing Jenn Kolbe cited productivity and security issues as the main reasons for the return-to-office mandate, especially after a massive leak in 2022 that revealed details about the crime simulator. She also said that the company had seen “tangible benefits” from having people work in the office.

“Making these changes now puts us in the best position to deliver the next Grand Theft Auto at the level of quality and polish we know it requires, along with a publishing roadmap that matches the scale and ambition of the game,” Kolbe wrote.

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Devs are worried about their work-life balance

However, this explanation did not sit well with many devs, who expressed their frustration and anger on X (formerly Twitter). They called the return-to-office mandate “bulls**t” and said that it was equivalent to firing all remote workers.

“Return to Office Mandates are layoffs,” a former Bungie employee tweeted.

Rockstar is under fire for return-to-office policy The discontent is not limited to developers outside the studio. According to IGN, some of the company’s own employees are also unhappy with the decision and fear for their work-life balance. Speaking anonymously to the publication, one employee said that working from home had been “a lifeline for many of us” and urged Rockstar Games to “rethink their reckless decision making and engage with their staff” to find solutions that suit everyone. Another employee said they were worried about having to “work late hours in the office” and missing out on “spending time with our families.”

UK developers union condemns Rockstar's decision

Additionally, the Independent Workers of Great Britain, a union that represents U.K. developers, including Rockstar North in Edinburgh, Scotland (which is leading the development of GTA 6), has also criticized Rockstar Games for its return-to-office policy.

The union’s chair, Austin Kelmore, told IGN that the company’s management would “pull the plug” on remote access technology on April 15, effectively forcing employees to come to the office or quit.

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He said, “The workers in the IWGB Game Workers Union at Rockstar are pushing for transparency over pay and promotions, a healthy and inclusive workplace culture, and work life balance [centered] around what each worker needs.”

“It is unacceptable that Rockstar leadership have gone back on their word time and time again and have ignored the workers’ requests for basic working conditions.”

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