Both the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) and Rockstar Games have issued responses to an open letter posted on Gamasutra which claimed deteriorating working conditions at the Rockstar San Diego studio.
Rockstar’s response came in the way of a comment on the original Gamasutra story, where user "Justwanna makegames" posted what appears to be an internal email from Rockstar to employees.
A few selections:
We do not agree with the allegations in the Gamasutra post (e.g. there has been no reduction in health benefits or ancillary benefits and perks (such as free dinners and massages etc), wage increases across the studio have kept track with cost of living increases, and anyone who feels they have been overlooked for a bonus for a game they worked on please contact HR to discuss as soon as possible).
Nevertheless, we do know that the team is working very hard right now, and we care deeply about the physical health and mental well-being of every single person on our team. We are committed to working through any issues anyone at the studio may have, and to providing support wherever possible.
In a post on its website, the IGDA wrote:
In any studio, the IGDA finds the practice of undisclosed and constant overtime to be deceptive, exploitative, and ultimately harmful not only to developers but to their final product and the industry as a whole. While our research shows that many studios have found ways to preserve quality of life for their employees, unhealthy practices are still far too common in our industry.
Events like these raise the awareness of quality of life issues in the industry and among the public. The IGDA has made clear its stance on excessive uncompensated overtime, and this instance represents an opportunity for reflection across the industry.
Additionally, MTV reached out to a former Rockstar New York employee who verified the claims made by Rockstar San Diego staffers.
The unnamed ex-employee even went so far as to compare Rockstar New York to the “Eye of Sauron” when it comes to dealing with other Rockstar studios:
Basically you’d have a studio working without guidance or milestones for nearly two years and then Rockstar NYC would suddenly pay attention to the project, making major changes as if out of the blue.