During its third-quarter earnings call on February 6, Take-Two Interactive execs strongly suggested that while Grand Theft Auto 6 is almost certainly in development, the long-awaited next installment in Rockstar's marquee franchise may not be launching anytime soon. Why's that? GTA Online is performing better than ever, so there's seemingly little incentive for the company to launch a sequel.
Without mentioning specific IP, Take-Two President Karl Slatoff said the company's "development pipeline over the next five years is the largest and most diverse in our company's history, including releases from our biggest franchises, exciting new IT, free-to-play offerings and a diverse mix of casual, mid-core and core gaming experiences. We will have much more to share on this exciting slate of titles in the months to come."
Take-Two has an enviable stable of franchises, but what could be bigger than Grand Theft Auto? For the time being, it seems this is as close as thirsty GTA fans will get to official word that a sequel is in the works.
Thanks to the ongoing success of Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online, Rockstar Games had an impressive 2019, despite not releasing a new game during the holiday season. GTA 5 has now sold more than 120 million copies, and Red Dead 2 is closing in on 30 million.
Judging from the call, the company thinks there's still good money to be made from GTA Online, and player interest remains high. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick elaborated that consumer spending for GTA Online grew 54 percent, and the game set records for audience size and player numbers in the previous quarter.
When asked directly if Take-Two had plans to release a major AAA title in 2020, Zelnick espoused the virtues of the company's "catalog titles and ongoing titles," suggesting that GTA 6 probably isn't dropping anytime soon.
"We haven't always been able to achieve our goal of having a strong frontline release schedule in every year, even in the recent past," Zelnick explained. "What has been great, though, is we've now built a company that has these very strong underpinnings of catalog titles and ongoing titles that live on in the hearts and minds of our consumers, generating engagement and generating net bookings and profits."
Rather than teasing GTA 6 as a potential launch title for PS5 and Xbox Series X, comments from Take-Two execs during the call seemed to tease the possibility of GTA 5 making the unprecedented leap to a third console generation.
When asked about the prospects for older-gen live-service games (like GTA Online) with new consoles just around the corner, Slatoff responded, "there's no reason to believe that the success that we're experiencing with those services would be any less in the new generation than the old generation."
Grand Theft Auto 6 has yet to be officially announced by Rockstar.