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Ex-Rockstar Employee, Job Stauffer, Comments on 100-Hour Work Week Claims

Job J Stauffer:
"It's been nearly a decade since I parted from Rockstar, but I can assure you that during the GTA IV era, it was like working with a gun to your head 7 days a week. "Be here Saturday & Sunday too, just in case Sam or Dan come in, they want to see everyone working as hard as them."

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-Foxtrot27d ago

“during the GTA IV era, it was like working with a gun to your head 7 days a week. “Be here Saturday & Sunday too, just in case Sam or Dan come in, they want to see everyone working as hard as them.” He also descried a time in which he was “put on notice” for not coming into work while suffering from the flu.

Stauffer then went on to describe the job as “the most ruthlessly competitive and intense work environment imaginable.”

Rockstar are right arseholes putting people through that but I'm guessing because they are Rockstar and how respected they are people won't bat an eye lid, believing whatever bullshit they say to deflect these claims back. If it was EA there would be f***** hell on.

LucasRuinedChildhood27d ago

Given that Rockstar have a history of overworking their workers, it's irritating to read comments like, "It was only the writers!" Has everyone just forgotten the Rockstar Spouse controversy?

"We're saddened if any former members of any studio did not find their time here enjoyable or creatively fulfilling and wish them well with finding an environment more suitable to their temperaments and needs ... " AKA "Too bad, why don't you go somewhere else?"

bouzebbal27d ago

i thought workers were only mistreated in south east asia..
The "civilized" world is no better and is actually far worse, screaming freedom and enslaving its people.

BrettAwesome27d ago

@bouzebbal
Well...The US maybe. But then again, the US is not particularly civilized is it? Ridiculous minimum wages, predatory business practices everywhere, stupendously expensive healthcare system. A government run by lobbyists. More people being incarcerated than anywhere else in the free world. Easy access to firearms. Not really that civilized, right? And Americans complain about...taxes?! Comparing My country to Venezuela, when in fact we are among the safest, happiest most well educated people on the planet

BVFTW26d ago

Almost anything can't compare to Venezuela, maybe hell and some other "4th world" countries. The government and the military is full of narcs, terrorist, killers, thieves and degenerates.

rainslacker26d ago

Its also irritaring that people automatically jump to the worsrt possible extreme.

Probably more so since that often indicates not caring about the facts.

michaelknight3526d ago

Thats what happen we lived in a social media era people saw this and ran with it

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 26d ago
TekoIie27d ago

This attitude is far more common than we realise. I've found from numerous workplaces it's the "go-getter" manager that makes this sort of work environment. The guy who wants to prove himself as as someone who can make a team get shit done but behind the scenes does it in a toxic way.

I'm 90% sure that rockstar has the right workplace policy on this, but I'd bet that management is pushing this culture to make sure someone above them is happy with their results. It's not a combined effort it's just someone chasing success and you get a lot of people go into management who will push people into doing this.

They know it's wrong but they'd rather get someone to work the hours than get the bollocking when their performance review comes up.

In the end Rockstar should have a look at who is doing the 100 hour weeks and once development is over say "hey do you want that time back?". I'd have a bit more respect if they do that at the very least so these people can have their lives and not be controlled by their work.

Gamist2dot026d ago

Not sure about Rockstar but i heard from other devs that employees get a month off after the project is done. Some take two months.

abstractel26d ago (Edited 26d ago )

It's extremely rare that you get time in lieu any where. It's "too expensive." Though Rockstar can't really make that excuse considering their sales numbers. The three Call of Duty developers are equally bad. I've only worked at one studio that has treated their employees with sympathy and respect and that's where I am still at -- this company will have my loyalty for as long as they keep it up (their bottom line has been more profitable each year which shows you can survive running a studio like this).

It's a myth that you have to overwork your employees to get quality. You don't produce quality when you're doing 100 weeks. You're basically at 60% efficiency when doing that any hours so yeah, you get an extra 10-15%. Most developers in California are 50 hour weeks standard, you get up to 60-70 hours about one year from release (with ups and downs depending on milestones). The 100 hours are usually the last 2-3 months.

blackblades27d ago

I would say protest or whatever but it'll just make it worst for them and make some people that only care about themselves that's waiting for the games send threats.

Muckspread26d ago (Edited 26d ago )

There are thousands of workplaces around the world with unbelievably bad working conditions. You best attack them all.

Not saying for a moment it's right, but I'm not one of these people who ponder over how many overworked and underpaid people made my shoes either. I don't care. At least Rockstar employees have the option of leaving. Others don't.

You're still going to buy their games regardless. And if you don't, millions will.

InTheZoneAC26d ago

It's not just rockstar, but any company full of developers and engineers.

Servbot4126d ago

"“put on notice” for not coming into work while suffering from the flu. "

That's when you come in and start coughing on everyone and everything.

nommers26d ago

It would seem counterproductive to force someone who has the flu to come in. They’d get everyone around them sick and slow down development further.

abstractel26d ago

I've commented on a few thread, as I've worked at a few of the big name developers and they (developers) are unfortunately all like this. A lot of time it's an unwritten rule, but you definitely get in trouble if you don't do the hours expected (if not explicitly told). There's not a game developer at a triple A house that would disagree with the existence and expectations of hours in the last few months of development.

Cobra95126d ago

Right. It's an understood requirement. You may be able to get away with refusing the extra load for a while, but then you'll fall out of favor, and end up getting canned anyway.

+ Show (5) more repliesLast reply 26d ago
AizenSosuke27d ago

They are being productive with those hours and hopefully being compensate perfectly for this.

Cobra95126d ago

Salaried employees often don't get any extra compensation for extra time worked. I never did. Pats on the back are way cheaper.

Garethvk27d ago (Edited 27d ago )

I worked at Both Sierra and Monolith years ago. Long hours were common in the weeks before a game goes Gold it was just how things were done. I did not have it under QA but when a big release came out Mandatory OT involving extra hours and weekends did happen.Usually many people who did very long hours in the programming and development side took several weeks off after a game went Gold with pay that did not come off their vacation under Comp Time.

We got OT Pay and comp time at Sierra and could pick when we came in on Saturday to do it.

Tribes 2 came out and we were slammed with support calls and email. So we had to come in on Saturday to knock down the e mail backlog. I did 4 hrs one day and aside from OT pay; I was allowed to leave early on a Friday with full pay and no loss of leave time to get an earlier Clipper to Canada as I was speaking at a convention. They also covered Monday and Tuesday so I got an extended vacation with pay and no loss of leave.

bigc07200427d ago

Several weeks off with pay? You still cordial with the bosses? I need to change career fields lol

Garethvk27d ago

Office closed in 2001. New owners ran one of the largest game companies into the ground and the two that followed ruined it. Would not relocate for new owners and company closed a couple years later. Every few years a game gets branded under their name when some new publisher tries to update a series.

rainslacker26d ago (Edited 26d ago )

That's how it is in most of the industry now. Maybe not a month or more off after release, as many are contractors and just become unemployed, but for the regular employees I'd suspect many of them will have most of the holiday season off, as there won't be much work for them.

Every developer is different though, so there are going to be varying degrees of what expectations are.

Things were different back in the days you're talking about, but things also stayed the same. Management has generally gotten better across the board to limit crunch, because there is too much of a shortage of labor in the industry, which leads to people ready to go somewhere else. Furthermore, there was way too much attrition of the skilled and experinced work force due to excessive crunch. Tthe past decade or so there has been a lot more focus on better ways to manage projects. Again though, it's going to vary, but without fail, there is probably going to be some crunch near the end, or around milestone deadlines. There really isn't any dev house that is always ahead of schedule.

I really do.miss Sierra games. They were front runners for their time. Tribes was one of my favorite games. The Roberts were probably one of the first American gaming celebrities.

Garethvk26d ago

Exactly. The company they sold to wanted to sell subscription services like an Entertainment Book thing and were more concerned about how many units shipped. The one after that was focused on releases per quarter done or not. Nobody in QA or development would sign off on Tribes 2 but the suits demanded it shipped despite being unstable beyond belief. The company that took them after that was a division of Universal and closed them a couple years later.

rainslacker26d ago

I never knew that part of their history. That was a time I started getting out of PC gaming...maybe because their games weren't around as much, since they had so many series that I really liked. I think Origin kind of started going downhill around the same time, and at the time, I wasn't aware of the publisher dynamic, and EA buying them out.

InputTranslation26d ago

Yeah there was this one time when Tribes 2 came out ......

neutralgamer199227d ago

give me a break these developers know what they signed up for. I hate this BS and this is BS by media and fans. Guess what if you want to become a developer than better know that the last 6-12 months of development will be crunch time and there is a reason for great pay with benefits

GTA5 sold so well and generated billions i am guessing this employee complaining wasn't complaining when those bonus checks were clearing. After a huge game is done most developer get atleast 30-60 days off to clear their minds before pre production begins on a new game

Average base salary is over 86K for year 1 and only goes up

R* are 110% right and have every right to ask for employees to show compassion because we are talking about billions and huge bonuses for everyone. Don't like it go work in the indies scene and have the freedom

UltraNova27d ago

Not refuting any anything here but how do you know they get bonuses big enough to cover 100hr weeks?

I've been there, well up to 85hrs was my "record" with no OT and let me tell you the emotional and physical toll it pulls on you being at work all day long 7 days a week under constant pressure its one of the worst experiences anyone can go through.

neutralgamer199227d ago (Edited 27d ago )

ultra

i am not refuting that everyone has different levels but when you go work for someone like R*, Cd project red etc than expect to work long hours especially in last 6 months of the development which is the crunch time to meet deadlines

brother when your game has made as much as GTA5 the bonus checks are big enough and once again not saying every game makes billions but most AAA games from well known developers sell well enough to get decent to great bonuses. After a AAA game development is done most developers get 3-4 weeks some get 4-8 weeks of paid vacation to freshen up their minds before the pre production on another game

this developer who is complaining about GTA5 crunch time can he post how much he made while GTA5 was in active development for over 5 years? and how much bonus dd he get?

Biggest thing that many are overlooking is the fact it's very well know that most AAA high budget titles require long hour crunch times towards the end of development

and i understand my comment won't be liked but things i wrote are known facts of gaming industry

UltraNova27d ago

Like I said I do not wish to refute anything you said, I just believe these huge companies can find a way to eradicate this phenomenon simply because they have the resources to do so. Hire more people when crunch time is due get better at managing tasks amd people etc.

Working people to "death" is not the optimal solution no matter how well they'll get compensated.

neutralgamer199227d ago

ultra

i agree with you on that. These companies shouldn't use anyone for 100 hour weeks for months at a time

27d ago Replies(1)
gamer780427d ago (Edited 27d ago )

you are right they do know what they signed up for, working 80+ hours in crunch mode for a year is common in the industry. They often do say, we don't "force" them but those that do are passionate and want to stay and work longer hours. Thats only half true, they will get fired sometimes if they work less than 80 hours in crunch mode. So thats the part I have the problem with, is rockstar denying this and painting as the workers choose to do so. They do get paid well thats why many programmers start out in gaming for a few years, learn alot then go into a different field later on where they can get their salary matched, but only work a normal work week so they can raise a family.

Gamist2dot026d ago (Edited 26d ago )

There's also a bonus involved if the game does well which is what $10-$50k? I'm pretty sure they get compensated for it. Unless they're contractors.

rainslacker26d ago (Edited 26d ago )

More like the last 2-4 weeks before gold, and then once that's locked, working on the day one update, which may not be as pressing.

@ultra

People.are paid regardless of bonus. If the budget wasn't there to pay for crunch, then there would be no crunch, but most games have a Large buffer for such things.

While I'm sure they exist, I don't know of any dev house that doesn't compensate extra, in some way, for crunch. Even salaried employees. Contractors who make up the bulk of most workers on a project, are usually hourly employers, and it's required to pay them extra, and that amount will be included within their conteact.

More people isn't really an option, because a lot of things are single person tasks, and a lot of time is just waiting for testing fixes to code. No reason to have two people waiting. Usually during that time, the person is working on another task that also needs to get done. Hiring people at the end of the project is typically more disruptive, than it is productive, and it can take months to hire and move someone into a position, and can be hard to find good people because its extremely short term work. With the shortages that exist in the gaming industry for qualified and experienced help, anyone suited for the job is likely already hired by someone else, or they're not going to waste their time on short term contract because they can just take the long term one that has an offer on the other line.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 26d ago
Garethvk27d ago

It should be noted that he last worked at Telltale who also had the same things said about them.

OB1Biker26d ago

A decade ago? Thats the best testimony they got?
Seriously its good to be off N4G more often for me now. They are always behind with the news.