GTA 6 Devs Slam Rockstar Games For Return-To-Office Mandate

GTA 6 Devs Slam Rockstar Games For Return-To-Office Mandate

A new report confirms that as Rockstar Games is entering the final stages of development on Grand Theft Auto 6, the company is mandating that employees must return to the office five days a week starting in April, to no applause from anyone.

Bloomberg reported on February 28 that the company’s head of publishing, Jenn Kolbe, made the return-to-office decision. In an email to staff, Kolbe said that the reasoning for the mandate came down to productivity and security concerns, particularly following a huge breach in 2022 that spilled the tea on the crime sim. She also said that Rockstar Games found “tangible benefits” from bodies being in office seats.

“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 said.

That sounds nice, but no one’s buying it. On Twitter, developers from myriad studios decried the decision, calling the return-to-office mandate “bullshit.” “Return to Office Mandates are layoffs,” a former Bungie employee tweeted. “Remote workers are effectively told: Move or Quit.” “Headline should be ‘Rockstar lays off all remote workers,’” posted a Sucker Punch developer.

Devs worry about work-life balance at Rockstar Games

It’s not just folks outside of Rockstar Games that are upset with this mandate. According to a February 29 IGN report, developers at the studio are criticizing the company’s decision as well. Speaking to the publication anonymously, one employee said that working from home has been “a lifeline for many of us,” specifying that Rockstar Games needs to “rethink their reckless decision making and engage with their staff” to find solutions that work for everyone. Another anonymous employee said they fear having to “work late hours in the office,” which would mean developers would miss out on “spending time with our families.”

Further, the Independent Workers of Great Britain, a union that represents U.K. developers (Rockstar North in Edinburgh, Scotland is leading development on GTA 6), has also slammed Rockstar Games for the return-to-office move. The organization’s chair, Austin Kelmore, claimed to IGN in the same report that company management will “pull the plug” on remote access technology on April 15, essentially forcing employees to come into the office or else. He continued:

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. Workers across the industry are done with letting executives make reckless and harmful decisions and the Rockstar workers are showing us the start of what’s to come if they’re continually ignored. There’s no better time than now to join our union and push for this to be the healthy and sustainable games industry we know it can be.

Kotaku has reached out to Rockstar Games for comment.

Return-to-office mandates have been a hot-button issue in the games industry since the covid-19 pandemic upended longstanding ways of doing business. Work-from-home policies have opened the door for many folks to find employment at studios they might not have otherwise, particularly disabled developers who can’t always make it to an office. Rockstar Games is not the first developer to insist upon a return to office. Activision Blizzard demanded the same of its employees in February 2023.

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