Quite like the "EA spouse" story before it, both wives of Rockstar employees and employees themselves have come forward anonymously to criticize the harsh working conditions at the company, asking it to stop lest legal action be taken.
It all started a couple of weeks ago when "Rockstar Spouse" made a blog post on Gamasutra addressed to "whomever it may concern", detailing the conditions at Rockstar San Diego on behalf of the wives. The story is much the same: extensively long hours (14-16 hour days for six days a week, another source says), suffering of family, benefit cuts, disrespect from upper management and stress to point of causing depression among many employees -- one, suicidal thoughts. She insists these are beyond the usual "crunch time" conditions which are understandable, illustrating it's more like crunch time all the time, with no real light or normal periods. The letter concludes with a note that legal action will be taken if necessary.
Word has it San Diego's Midnight Club franchise is in big trouble. After LA was released, two employees who were with the company for a decade were fired, after which many people quit in frustration, not wanting to work on Red Dead Redemption. The latter title is also said to be in trouble due to mismanagement, and execs don't forsee it being profitable.
Some time after this an anonymous source from Rockstar Vancouver -- who are working on Max Payne 3 -- came forward and said these experiences are virtually identical to his, and not only that, seem to be hurting development. Payne, says the source, has just undergone its third total re-write, meaning the team would have to complete all content by April or May in order to meet its proposed August release date.
After another anonymous source came forward, comparing Rockstar NYC (yet another division) to the "Eye of Sauron", three satirical wallpapers appeared on the official website, including the one below. Other sources have said they "fear" NYC because they are "unstable and needy."
No official comment has been made, despite numerous requests across media. However, a leaked internal e-mail from management appeared from a commenter ("Justwanna makegames") on the original post, expressing disagreement with the proposed circumstances, and inviting anyone possibly "overlooked" to speak with Human Resources, offering three contacts, one with parent company Take Two for those who wish to go outside Rockstar.
The International Game Developers Association has also offered its help as an impartial third-party. According to their statistics, over half of 3,330 surveyed game developers in 2009 felt they needed more time for themselves and families, though conditions are improving and can continue to.
Whatever happens, we wish all the best to Rockstar employees and their families, and hope some real good comes of the circumstances, as did with the EA situation.