GTA 6 Devs Fear “Toxic” Rockstar Return to Office Mandate

The video game industry is already suffered record-setting layoffs. Now, they're being forced back into the office as well.

Video game publisher Rockstar Games recently announced the end of its hybrid workplace policy, citing productivity and security as reasons why it’s forcing employees back into the office five days a week.

Now, the employees are pushing back.

According to the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB), which has some Rockstar employees as members, the news is just the latest broken promise from the gaming company. Rockstar previously told its workers that it would not call for a five-days-a-week policy.

Rockstar Previously Denied Plans for an RTO Mandate

In 2023, Rockstar mandated a transition to a three-day in-office work week. This, too, prompted pushback, in the form of a union petition with 175 signatures. In response, according to a report from Video Games Chronicle, Rockstar stated in a employee-wide email that “This isn’t our first step to 5 days a week. No one wants to go back to the old way of working.”

Flash forward to today, however, and that’s exactly what Rockstar is asking for.

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Needless to say, the unionized workers aren’t happy. IWGB game workers chair Austin Kelmore has issued a statement on the matter:

“The workers in the IWGB Game Workers Union at Rockstar are pushing for transparency over pay and promotions, a healthy and inclusive workplace culture, and work life balance centred around what each worker needs. It is unacceptable that Rockstar leadership have gone back on their word time and time again and have ignored the workers’ requests for basic working conditions. -Austin Kelmore

Kelmore added that workers “are done with letting executives make reckless and harmful decisions” and that there is “no better time than now to join our union and push for this to be the healthy and sustainable games industry we know it can be.”

Is This a “Return to Toxic Crunch Practices” for Rockstar?

Some employees are calling the company’s continued push towards fully in-office work an example of the “reckless and harmful” choices that the video game industry has been making recently, while others warn of a return to Rockstar’s old, “toxic” office culture.

Rockstar’s past culture of encouraging excessive overtime has been well documented, with one 2018 Kotaku exposé mentioning reports of 100-hour work weeks peppered with “mental breakdowns and heavy drinking.”

While the company has claimed for years that it has improved its workplace practices, the apparent broken promises surrounding its push for a full return to the office – and the lack of flexibility inherent to a full-time return to the office in the first place – has understandably given some employees pause.

How Do Video Game Company Layoffs Fit Into the Picture?

According to estimates, reported layoffs across the video game industry hit a then-record-setting 8,500 jobs lost in 2022. That record was then topped in 2023, with 10,500 positions cut, and now, just barely past two months into 2024, the industry has already suffered well over 8,000 jobs lost.

To make matters worse, these cuts are coming during a boom time for video game successes, with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Spider-Man 2, and Baldur’s Gate 3 among just a few of the huge hits in the last year alone. The billions earned, it seems, aren’t trickling down to the thousands of laid-off employees who actually made the games happen.

Those layoffs mirror the larger tech industry, which is still regularly laying off hardworking employees and has been since late 2022. And, with all the still-employed workers fearing for their jobs, too, executives could be feeling empowered to push for return-to-office mandates – all despite evidence indicating that remote workers are actually more productive.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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