Rockstar is reportedly aiming to become a more 'progressive and compassionate' workplace

Grand Theft Auto 5
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

In recent years, Rockstar Games has been mired in multiple controversies over its internal development culture, with claims ranging from teams being subject to extreme levels of crunch to accusations of sexual assault and other forms of abuse. According to a new Bloomberg report, however, major steps have been taken to improve the studio's 'frat-boy culture', resulting improved working conditions for its staff.

The report states that Rockstar has "attempted to reinvent itself as a more progressive and compassionate workplace," a claim based upon interviews with "more than 20 people" who either worked or still work at the company. "The transformation of Rockstar includes changes to scheduling, converting contractors to full-time employees and the ouster of several managers that employees saw as abusive or difficult to work with," writes Bloomberg's Jason Schreier.

More specific changes to Rockstar's work culture include "new mental health and leave benefits" and a new policy referred to as "flexitime", which "allows staff to immediately take time off for every extra hour they work." Rockstar's management has also apparently promised that development of Grand Theft Auto 6 will not requires "excessive overtime" (which, it's important to stress, is not the same as no overtime whatsoever).

Not every alteration has necessarily been for the better. One of the key purported changes at Rockstar is a "new management structure" implemented after the departure of design director Imran Sarwar, who "was accused by several employees of bullying and abuse". But Sarwar was replaced by three other directors, which the report says led to a "too many cooks" situation that resulted in contradictory decisions being made about GTA 6's design. Similarly, Rockstar has added more producers to the project, a move that has been received positively, but "has also caused bottlenecks".

There is also apparently little pressure to finish GTA 6, as GTA 5 is still selling copies by the bucketload and GTA Online remains extremely profitable. This has led to some conflict and even resignations, with a group of Edinburgh-based developers allegedly "telling colleagues they were sick of the lack of progress." Other employees, however, are reportedly "content" with the more relaxed approach to development.

This latest report into Rockstar's changing culture tracks with previous investigations into the studio's attempts to reinvent itself. The big question is whether or not these changes will stick when the company commits to a firm release date for GTA 6. It also sounds like, while things may have improved at Rockstar, there is still work to be done.


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