'Grand Theft Auto VI' means every day is an office day for Rockstar workers

  • Rockstar Games is mandating a return to the office for its employees from April, Bloomberg reported.

  • It comes ahead of the release of "Grand Theft Auto VI" next year.

  • The game has been subject to leaks, leading Rockstar to an RTO drive on security grounds.

Rockstar Games just issued a return-to-office ultimatum, a move it hopes will drive productivity and curb leaks ahead of one of the biggest gaming launches in over a decade.

The developer behind the "Grand Theft Auto" games has asked employees to return to the office five days a week starting in April, Bloomberg reported, as it enters the final stages of development for the franchise's next installment, "Grand Theft Auto VI."

Like many companies issuing RTO mandates, Bloomberg said, Rockstar's head of publishing, Jenn Kolbe, cited "productivity" in an email to staff as one reason for the move to bring workers back ahead of the release of one of the most anticipated games ever.

She didn't stop there, though: Employees were told "security" was a factor, too.

IP and sales worth billions on the line

Security has always been a huge priority at Rockstar.

The company — which sold more than 195 million units of "Grand Theft Auto V" and has raked in about $8 billion since its release in 2013 — is secretive and asks employees to sign some of the strictest nondisclosure agreements in the industry to protect its intellectual property.

For instance, Ned Luke, a voice actor for one of the main characters in the previous game, once said he thought he'd get fired from GTA V after his involvement was outed by a friend ahead of schedule. His work on the game had been kept secret up to that point.

But in the run-up to the release of "Grand Theft Auto VI," Rockstar, which adopted remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, has had several security issues to contend with.

A major issue came in September 2022 after a hacker published early footage of the game. The company blamed a "network intrusion in which an unauthorized third party illegally accessed and downloaded confidential information."

"We are extremely disappointed to have any details of our next game shared with you all in this way," Rockstar said on X, then Twitter, at the time.

The company faced another breach after its first official trailer for the game was leaked in December. That leak was suspected to come from a Rockstar developer's son, GTA Base said, adding that it appeared this person dumped on TikTok what he'd got hold of.

Clearly, Rockstar has reason to feel angsty about employees being out of sight ahead of a release that will be 12 years in the making next year, when it's set to launch.

It makes any mitigation tougher.

RTO mandates have been met with fierce opposition from employees who feel they have been pushed back into the office over vague concepts such as productivity, collaboration, and boosting performance.

Research published last month, based on analysis of RTO data from 137 S&P 500 firms, gave weight to the arguments of workers critical of RTO mandates after finding the policies made little to no difference to their stated goals.

The gaming industry has proved remote work is productive and practical, with games like "Spider-Man 2" being made from home, Bloomberg's Jason Schreier previously said.

Rockstar staffers will likely point to this as a reason not to drag them back into the office.

The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain said Rockstar's decision came a year after 170 Rockstar workers signed a petition "opposing mandatory 3-day office work."

Rockstar workers represented by the union accused the developer of "broken promises" and said they had concerns around a "heightened risk of overwork," which the company has been accused of in the past.

One anonymous worker quoted in a statement from the union said that working from home had "been a lifeline" that allowed staff to balance care responsibilities, manage disabilities, and relocate as they needed.

Whether Rockstar decides to soften its stance remains to be seen.

Read the original article on Business Insider