Rockstar Games, after a week of fending off concerns its employees were overworked, has told Kotaku it’s making overtime “optional” at its Lincoln UK studio, which has been doing quality assurance tests for Red Dead Redemption 2.
According to Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo, Rockstar provided the site with workplace data showing both hours requested and hours worked by QA at this specific office, which has been corroborated by some reports from other sources. While some reports earlier this week clarified the average workweek at Rockstar was 42-45 hours, workers at the Lincoln office were asked to work 45-57 hours per week depending on the month.
During that time period, workers were asked to fulfill those hours by working two and a half extra hours for 3/5 days of the week, and work one 7.5 hour weekend day every four weeks.
Jenn Kolbe, Rockstar head of publishing, told Kotaku that “requested scheduled overtime felt like an obligation to some, if not many of the team,” and management informed workers that “OT is not mandatory.”
This news comes with something of a skewed perspective depending on if you’re a Rockstar employee or a manager. Totilo says that sources have told Kotaku that this marks an actual shift from mandated overtime to optional overtime, while Kolbe’s characterization indicates that written policy was that this overtime was optional even if that’s not what workers were told.
Rockstar North employee Flik Green appeared to indicate on Twitter that this news also impacts QA at other Rockstar studios as well. She also characterizes her time at the studio in a complex light, discussing how she and her coworkers felt respected by company HR, and still chose to work extra hours on a consistent basis.