Grand Theft Auto 6 is reportedly in the works and has been rumored to be the biggest, most immersive installment yet of Rockstar Games' groundbreaking open-world franchise. The company has not officially confirmed that GTA 6 is in development, and with GTA V coming to next-gen consoles in 2021, we're still a long ways off from an official release date. When Rockstar's finally ready, it needs to break up the crime adventure into episodic installments, like the Godfather trilogy.
GTA 5 broke new ground when it came to interactive storytelling, with three protagonists players could seamlessly swap between as well as multiple endings. Rockstar could take this a step further with GTA 6 and release its main plot piece-by-piece. That would allow the plot to span multiple generations, like in Francis Coppola’s ionic mob movies.
The so-called “Project Americas” leaks that claim GTA 6 will cover similar narrative ground to Neftlix’s drug dynasty drama Narcos would fit perfectly with this epic approach to storytelling. Players could start the story as a low-ranking drug peddler that steadily gets more involved with a drug cartel to support their family until they become a kingpin. Their story could end in their tragic death at the hands of a rival, criminal organization and a new portion of the story could pick up with their son or daughter inheriting their position and seeking revenge.
This could make GTA 6 more cinematic than ever before, keep gamers excited about the game for longer, and could help Rockstar mitigate the crunch culture that had employees work “100-hour weeks” during the tail-end of Red Dead Redemption 2’s development cycle. And there’s some evidence that an episodic GTA 6 might actually happen.
Games journalist Jason Schrier originally reported GTA 6 is currently in development and that it might launch as a multiple parts, much like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII Remake, which will split the game's original story into at least three separate releases.
"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),” Schreier tweeted in April. “That is then expanded with regular updates over time. This may help mitigate stress and crunch."
It's difficult to predict how this will look in practice, but Rockstar might take a similar approach to how MMORPGs, like World of Warcraft, roll out DLC expansions. The initial release of GTA 6 might limit players to playing as one character in a single city, but subsequent updates could have the first protagonists's daughter traveling to a whole new city or country.
That would not only fit the Project America leaks, which claimed GTA 6 could feature some of the franchise's most iconic settings, like Liberty and Vice City, but it would also play into Rockstar's legacy of using the games-as-a-service model.
GTA 5 Online has consistently received updates that have attracted more than 33 million active players as of August 2019. GTA 6 could be a natural expansion of this strategy that establishes a new standard for how video games are made into the 2020s and beyond.
GTA 6 is reportedly in development.