The Slow Evolution of Grand Theft Auto: From GTA 5 to GTA 6

GTA 5 Trevor

There was a time, in the halcyon days of the 2000s to early 2010s, when new Grand Theft Auto games were a regular occurrence. While Grand Theft Auto 6 is on the horizon, it’s been over a decade since the release of GTA 5—contrast this with the five-year gap between GTA 4 and GTA 5.

If this trend continues, we might reasonably expect GTA 7 to take 20 years to develop, GTA 8 to take 40 years, and GTA 9 to take 80 years. Future legends might speak of a mythical GTA 11, which would have begun development by ancient game developers 320 years before it finally emerged to dominate the gaming landscape of Nu-Gameia.

While this projection is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, it highlights a significant slowdown in the development of Rockstar’s flagship franchise. This is partly due to the longer development times prevalent in the industry, but it’s also because GTA Online, the live service component of GTA 5, has been a massive financial success for Rockstar.

Former developer Joe Robino, who worked on GTA 5 as a virtual cinematographer and senior camera artist, revealed that the success of GTA Online derailed plans for a DLC centered on the character Trevor Philips. This DLC, rumored to be the “James Bond Trevor” expansion, was discovered by dataminers and later confirmed by Trevor’s voice actor, Steve Ogg.

In an interview with the SanInPlay YouTube channel, Robino shared that after GTA 5’s release, much of the team transitioned to working on Red Dead Redemption 2. Robino himself took on a standalone DLC project for GTA that never saw the light of day. “It was really, really good, but when [GTA Online] came out, it became such a cash cow that it was hard to justify a standalone DLC,” Robino explained. He believes that both projects could have been developed simultaneously.

Robino expressed his frustration over the decision, noting that the team was halfway through the DLC when it was paused due to the overwhelming success of GTA Online. Despite the criticism GTA Online has faced for its paywalls and cash-grabs, Robino also attributes the DLC’s cancellation to the high workload, as Rockstar was simultaneously developing Red Dead Redemption 2. “We worked a lot, like for six or seven years… we were the first line of defense for story, mocap, and editing, and a lot of the teams around us would develop from that,” he said.

At least, we know that GTA 6 is scheduled for release in Autumn 2025. As for when it will arrive on PC, Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar will need to make further announcements “in due time.” Meanwhile, the gaming community continues to wait eagerly, hoping that the next installment in the Grand Theft Auto series will be worth the long wait.

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