Game Theory

GTA 6 devs learned 1 critical lesson from 2020's biggest video game flop

Rockstar doesn't plan to abandon what made the franchise great.

Grand Theft Auto 6 can't forget single player. While Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 have both featured single-player campaigns, Rockstar has focused more energy on building out online modes for these games rather than continue single-player stories through a sequel. In an age where many franchises have awkwardly adopted "games-as-a-service" model, it would be refreshing if GTA 6 could solely focus on a cohesive single-player experience, leaving the GAAS elements for GTA Online.

New comments from Rockstar indicate the developers are keenly aware of this problem, hinting that GTA 6 won't neglect the single-player experience.

GQ recently spoke with senior members of the Rockstar team about the Cayo Perico Heist that released for GTA Online last week. While there's a lot that GTA 6 watchers can speculate about from this new heist, it's notable for being open to solo players, who will reap greater rewards as they don't have to split it.

Design Director Scott Butchard GQ that Rockstar plans to incorporate more single-player elements into GTA Online. More importantly, though, GQ asked if Rockstar will continue to tell single-player stories and Butchard said "absolutely."

Technically, Rockstar has not publically confirmed that it's developing GTA 6. We only know about its existence thanks to leaks and reports from websites like Kotaku. Still, this comment from Butchard indicates that Rockstar's future projects will still have a focused single-player element, with titles like GTA Online filling the void for a live game that can be played alone or with friends.

An April 2020 report from Kotaku that teased the new GTA game also hinted at this more focused scope. "One plan that management has laid out for the next game, a new entry in the Grand Theft Auto series, is to start out with a moderately sized release (which, by Rockstar’s standards, would still be a large game) that is then expanded with regular updates over time, which may help mitigate stress and crunch," it said.

GTA V managed to deliver an impressive single-player experience back in 2013, and while Rockstar hasn't added much in terms of a new story to it, we don't have to worry about them straying too far from that single-player formula with GTA 6.

Games like Marvel's Avengers have failed because of a scope that was too ambitious, doing too many things to maximize profit rather than just delivering a solid single-player game that's actually what the fans want. If Rockstar is keeping single-player in focus and even going a bit smaller-scale with GTA 6, then they hopefully won't lose sight of what makes the series great.

Gamers line up to play GTA V at Tokyo Game Show in 2013.YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images

GTA Online is clearly going stronger than ever, as it just received a new heist and is getting a PS5 upgrade in 2021. Rockstar Games is obviously content with spinning off GTA Online into its own thing, and will likely keep it around even after GTA 6 inevitably arrives.

As it will still be a major cash cow for Rockstar at that point, it'd make more sense to just see the benefits from tying GTA Online into GTA 6's launch rather than bog GTA 6 down with unnecessary and new multiplayer or games-as-a-service features. These recent comments, as well as the ones from Kotaku's report, do suggest that Rockstar plans to make GTA 6 a smaller, more-focused, single-player experience.

With GTA Online still actively supported, that's what GTA fans need right now as GTA V never saw any single-player expansions. Whether Project Americas or any other leaks prove to be true or not, we can at least be fairly confident that GTA 6 won't stray too far from what we know and love about Rockstar games and will hopefully still deliver a solid single-player experience.

Grand Theft Auto 6 is reportedly in development.

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