Rockstar Clarifies Red Dead Redemption 2's 100-Hour Work Week Comments

"We obviously don't expect anyone else to work this way."


As we approach the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, now is the time for the publisher to promote the game with impressive stats about just how much work went into the final product. But one number has been raising eyebrows, forcing Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser to issue a clarification.

In a lengthy interview, Houser suggested that the team worked 100-hour weeks several times throughout 2018. But now in a statement to Kotaku, he has elaborated that he was referring to the senior writing team, not the entire Rockstar development team.

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"After working on the game for seven years, the senior writing team, which consists of four people, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, Lazlow and myself, had, as we always do, three weeks of intense work when we wrapped everything up," he said. "Three weeks, not years. We have all worked together for at least 12 years now, and feel we need this to get everything finished. After so many years of getting things organized and ready on this project, we needed this to check and finalize everything."

His clarification does square with the original piece in Vulture, which used the 100 hours quote immediately after explaining rewrites and edits. Houser's clarifying statement also goes on to explain Rockstar's general policy towards "crunch"--the widely used practice in AAA game development to put in long hours, especially near the end of a project that's preparing to ship.

"More importantly, we obviously don't expect anyone else to work this way," he said. "Across the whole company, we have some senior people who work very hard purely because they're passionate about a project, or their particular work, and we believe that passion shows in the games we release. But that additional effort is a choice, and we don't ask or expect anyone to work anything like this. Lots of other senior people work in an entirely different way and are just as productive--I'm just not one of them! No one, senior or junior, is ever forced to work hard."

This all has a tone of history repeating itself. When the first Red Dead Redemption was nearing completion, an anonymous letter alleged poor working conditions at Rockstar San Diego, including mandatory overtime. That prompted mediation from the IDGA. Houser's clarification suggests the studio does not expect its employees to work such long hours.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming October 26. Its online mode, Red Dead Online, will follow in November.

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