GTA 6 is probably not what you think it is.
We have plenty of news to go over these days as the ramping of the new console generation is kicking into full gear. There will be plenty of time to pick apart the specs of the new consoles, various studio acquisitions, and controller variants over the next year. But for now, lets focus more on the development of a particular IP that has been a staple in gaming and pop culture in general for well over 20 years now, the Grand Theft Auto series.
Now obviously we all knew that Grand Theft Auto 5 wouldn’t be the end of the series right? Rockstar likes money and we like giving it to them in exchange for outstanding gaming experiences, so naturally another Grand Theft Auto game coming out isn’t a surprise. It is perhaps reasonable to worry about the idea of topping the previous title though. Grand Theft Auto 5 is not only the best the series has to offer up to this point, but it is a true pinnacle of what AAA gaming can be in just about every way.
Even now, seven full years after the launch of Grand Theft Auto 5, its story, characters, gameplay mechanics, and unparalleled freedom stand like a giant oak tree casting a massive shadow over the rest of the medium. Even after all these years it can be a mental workout to think of a game that tops GTA5 in all of these areas at once, the way it does with every game in it’s genre before it. Given this, a follow up to that game with another installment shouldn’t be much of a shock. However, what might be surprising to many of us are several of the elements of the philosophy behind the next Grand Theft Auto’s development, and what that might mean for the game.
Some reports have surfaced in recent days about the next Grand Theft Auto game which of course have led the gaming commentator community and of course everyone else to come up with all sorts of theories and speculations. Many of which are useless, but given what we are seeing in the various reports from reputable sources, we can draw some reasonable hypotheses and expectations.
Of the various details that have bubbled to the surface, perhaps the most salient is the concept that Grand Theft Auto 6 will be somewhat smaller at launch than you or I might normally expect. Usually Rockstar tries to stay up with current expectations of open world games- if not set them- by having massive, dense worlds with enough content to keep you busy for years on end if you want to be. But here, it is looking like Rockstar might be taking a different approach this time around with a somewhat smaller world map.
This is likely a result of the “100-hour work week” debacle during the development of Red Dead Redemption 2 where many employees were working massive amounts of overtime to meet the demands of the “crunch phase” of wrapping up the project. As GTA 6 is likely the next major project from the studio, this would be when any structural changes to the work environment and culture would take effect, so one of the many results of that is likely to be a demonstrably smaller Grand Theft Auto game. Of course, Rockstar’s version of small is still probably quite big in a general sense, but the fact that they might not be chasing that ever-moving goalpost of bigger and bigger worlds could have massive implications in other areas.
Firstly, it’s going to irritate some players. Now I’m not saying being mad at Rockstar for releasing a smaller game is a valid response to have, it definitely isn’t. Some of Rockstar’s best games are their smallest. Manhunt, Max Payne 3, and Bully never made sheer size that much of a priority yet are still regarded as some of the best the company has ever put out. However, those games are not Grand Theft Auto, and GTA brings with it a certain set of expectations, one of which is a massive world with plenty to do. So if they are aiming to release a smaller map than the previous game in the series, that could spell some trouble in the lead up to launch as fans of the series would probably rather hear that GTA 6 will have the biggest map of all time.
That said, it wouldn’t be the first time a Grand Theft Auto game would feature a smaller world than the one before it. So, given that fact, and that the world map is reportedly planned to be supplemented with additional content later on after launch, hopefully whatever fallout does emerge from the realization of a smaller game at launch could be smoothed over as time passes, and as long as what is in the world is quality GTA fun, as it likely will be.
This brings us to another educated guess; if the world is going to be smaller at launch, that will likely mean a bigger emphasis on story and characters. Now it’s not as if any of the previous GTA games were particularly lacking in the area, but a closer, more intimate look at the characters involved could be something to expect in Grand Theft Auto 6, as the trade-off with size and vastness in video games is usually quality and depth. This could be a nice change for the series.
Again, not to say that GTA doesn’t have interesting characters, but seeing them up close with a microscope in perhaps the same way that we saw Max in Max Payne 3 could yield a lot of results for the narrative of the game. It does take less resources to write a good script and perform it well than it does to design another 100 miles of buildings, streets, cars, and NPCs, so if being more efficient with resources is the goal for Rockstar, going in that direction would make plenty of sense.
The last major thing we can pull from this news is that the game is likely not very far into development. Odds are with the completion of Red Dead Redemption 2 only being just over a year ago and GTA 5’s online mode still receiving plenty of support, the resources just aren’t there to deliver a Grand Theft Auto game any time soon. And by that I mean any time in the next few years at least.
We may very well get more news on it as time goes on, we’ll see some vertical slices, some interviews with the developers, and so on, but a release date is probably still quite a ways away. I’d be surprised if we got the game in any time period before the end of the upcoming generation.
In fact, we’ll probably see another game from Rockstar well before GTA 6 anyway. Whether that’s Bully 2, a Manhunt sequel, or something else entirely is completely up for speculation at this point, but there is no real reason to believe that GTA 6 will be here anytime soon nor will it be Rockstar’s next game. It’s likely in very early stages while whatever has been cooking in the background at rockstar while Red Dead Redemption 2 was being worked on is probably next in line.
Whatever does end up happening with Grand Theft Auto 6, you can be sure that we’ll have it covered here.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.