Alleged Unfair Work Conditions At Rockstar San Diego

Alleged Unfair Work Conditions At Rockstar San Diego

An anonymous blogger filing under the heading “Rockstar Spouse” has penned a letter of complaint about working conditions at Red Dead Redemption development studio Rockstar San Diego.

The lengthy posting appeared yesterday on a user blog on the game development site Gamasutra and was signed by “Determined Devoted Wives of Rockstar San Diego employees.” The post claims that since March 2009, San Diego employees have suffered “degradation” that “extends to their quality of life and their family members” in the form of mandatory 12-hour days six days a week, have had pay cut and vacation limited. The post alleges that this extended crunch-time stress has affected the health of some employees. The “wives” blame management and a Rockstar “thirst for power,” urging changes in the working conditions at the San Diego studio: “If these working conditions stay unchanged in the upcoming weeks, preparation will be made to take legal action against Rockstar San Diego.”

Rockstar Games did not respond to requests from Kotaku for comment about the letter or any actions the company might take because of it.

While the charges of an anonymous blogger — and the sentiments echoed below the post by anonymous commenters allegedly familiar with the workings of the studio — must be met with scepticism, the letter was clearly designed to evoke memories of 2004’s “EA Spouse.” Six years ago, Erin Hoffman, writing anonymously as “EA Spouse” complained of unfair working conditions at Electronic Arts. Her complaints about the long hours and stressful lives of EA developers gained industry-wide attention and was the topic of several stories that appeared on Kotaku. But by 2006 EA appeared to change its ways and Hoffman was praising the happiness of people who worked for the company.

The charges levied in the “Rockstar Spouse” post are unproven. We’ll continue following this story as the veracity of the complaints — or lack thereof — comes more clearly to light.

Wives of Rockstar San Diego Employees Have Collected Themselves [Gamasutra “Rockstar Spouse” user blog]


  • Normally I’d be on the side of the employees but Red Dead Redemption is my most highly anticipated game of 2010, it just keeps on looking more and more awesome. So yeah, I say the ends justify the means, if you can make a game as good as RDR who cares if a few people have to be worked within an inch of their life?.

  • Not being one, I thought coders didn’t sleep anyway?

    To use one of my favourite sayings: Sometimes the best way to improve morale is to fire all the unhappy people.

  • Red dead Redemption is on my NEEDS AT ANY COST list. Normally I all for standing up to the man and workers revolutions but in this case if the bosses want to start whipping employees for extra motivation I’m sure no one will notice.

  • I really feel for them. I’ll be putting my money into this and I really hope the hardworking members of the team get the recognition and rewards that they rightly deserve.

  • @ Boo goose, Andrew

    Are you seriously saying that you are for people’s social lives, including the upbringing of children and spousal integrity, being damaged as long as you get a game? Its gotten so bad that a wife has actually had to come out and speak of what its doing to the employee!

    Thats extremely selfish, no matter how you look at it.

    Go ahead and put yourself in their shoes and then imagine somebody saying that they were perfectly content with you working ridiculous hours just for a game.

  • In the gaming world, when alpha, beta, ‘crunch times’ as theyre known, including E3 and any display shows or other deadlines loom, it’s quite common for 12 hour days to become commonplace for coders and such.

    EA still have 12 hour workdays in place and pay their staff accordingly, which I have no doubt Rockstar do as they wouldn’t want the negative publicity. I don’t dismiss this letter out of hand, but I would like to see some *proof* of this like was able to be supplied with the EA incident first.

    EA’s situation was entirely different where they weren’t being paid correctly for overtime, they weren’t being given their time off when scheduled, they were being made to work in excess of 12 hour days 7 days a week. So again… to quote a crude internet term “PROOF OR STFU!”

    • Yes but apparently its been since march 09… no crunch time that long ago. Unless they were all pissing around and didnt get any work done and now they are under the pump

      • Possibly Darius, I’m not dismissing it out of hand. Just stating that even here in australia, I knew a guy who worked on Destroy All Humans, who near the end of its production, was pulling 12 – 14 hour days, 5 – 6 days a week that’s all. I’d be very interested to see this investigated to see if it is true. If it IS true then I’d like to see Rockstar made accountable, no employee needs to be treated like that. If it’s not true? Find the source of the letter and sue their rear off for defamation.

  • I really never understand these posts about bad working conditions. The employees can always just… quit? Right? This is AMERICA, you can do other things.

    I would take a lower paying job over one that worked me to the bone ANY day.

    Life lesson kids: don’t take a job you hate, you tend to spend a lot of time there

    • “This is AMERICA, you can do other things.”

      Right and this is also 2010, where for the last 2 – 3 years America has been going through its lowest employment percentage since the great depression… great advice.

      • Employment is out there, you just have to look for it.

        The high unemployment rate is due to zombies that have had a single job their entire lives loosing their jobs and being unable to adapt.

  • I’m more than happy to wait for my games. I don’t want to see people’s lives degrade just so i can play game X a month or two sooner.
    Look at Metroid Prime, we had to wait 8 years for that, but it was definitely worth the wait.

  • I can’t believe any of the people here are so selfish as to be ok with seeing people destroy themselves of a product that they simply want for entertainment. If you really want the game to be good then you’d also desire that the people making it remain in good health and morale.

    Also, I have never seen the term “the ends justify the means” used legitimately for good reasons, it has been and will continue to be nothing but a excuse for doing bad things.

  • I don’t think that “the game looks awesome” is reason enough to be accepting of making people work 72 hours a week. All games have last minute pushes to get them finished where long hours become the norm; but those pushes don’t start a year before the game comes out. I don’t think that any of us would really have too much trouble waiting a few extra months for a game if the workers were working acceptable hours.

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