Just before the release of Rockstar’s open-world action game Red Dead Redemption 2, reports emerged about the working conditions at the studios that developed the game. This naturally led to a discussion about unions, which are largely non-existent in the video game world. Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two, has now weighed in on the subject of unions. He told GI.biz that it’s “hard to imagine” why his developers would want to unionize, but if they do, management would work on a collective bargaining agreement with them.

Before making his point about unions in the games industry specifically, Zelnick offered a higher-level view of why he believes unions exist in the first place.

“Unions tend to develop when labor relations are not typically non-existent,” Zelnick said. “And typically unions have been most beneficial when there were more workers than there were jobs. And where the jobs were low-paying jobs. We have fewer workers than we have jobs, and they’re high-paying jobs.”

“Right now, Take-Two has 500 open positions. There are 220,000 or so people employed in the US video game business. They make about $100,000 on average, maybe more. It’s hard to imagine what would motivate that crew to unionize,” Zelnick added. “But we’re a compliant company and will serve the law. If our colleagues want to engage in collective bargaining, then we will.”

Unions are common in other popular media industries such as TV and film, but the video game business is largely unionized. Unionization efforts in the video game industry appear to be ramping up of late, with groups like Game Workers Unite appearing at recent industry events like E3 and the Game Developers Conference to spread the message.

The practice of “crunch,” or working overly long hours to finish a development milestone in gaming, is often connected to unionization efforts and measures to improve the work-life balance of developers. Recently, GameSpot spoke with the developers of Ubisoft’s The Division 2, and they told us what is being done to minimize crunch and promote a healthy work-life balance.



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