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GTA 6 release date rumor may mean it's a PS5, Xbox Series X launch title

There's still hope for some kind of announcement this year.

Rumors of a monumental Grand Theft Auto 6 announcement in March came and went without as much as a peep from Rockstar Games. The long-awaited follow up to GTA 5 will remain a mystery for now, but a reveal might not be too far off after all if a new analytics report is correct.

Rockstar published two mysterious new logos earlier this year and the developer’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, was caught updating a “gtavi.com” website domain in March. Many fans took these actions and now-proven-false claims by online “leakers” to mean that a March GTA 6 announcement was imminent. That never happened, but now there's an unearthed note from a financial firm renewing hope that a GTA 6 unveiling this year might still be possible.

Clay Kirkland, a financial analyst for Intrepid Capital Funds, projected in a letter to shareholders published in July 2019 that GTA 6 will be released by “early 2021” at the latest.

“While a release date has yet to be confirmed, we expect Grand Theft Auto 6 will hit the market shortly after the new generation of gaming consoles are released, which is likely a late 2020 or early 2021 event,” he wrote, also predicting that Rockstar would try to capitalize on the excitement that the next-gen console launches for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will bring.

What's that? You say 'GTA 6' could still be announced this year?!Rockstar Games / Take-Two Interactive

Analysts typically don’t have access to insider tips per se and instead base their projections on what a company's announcement plans might be based on financial stability. Even though Kirkland might have been ball-parking his estimates, Take-Two CEO Strauss H. Zelnick hinted that Intrepid’s predictions could be on to something.

During a February 2020 earnings call, the executive teased that Take-Two has big plans for some of its most “beloved” franchises moving forward. While he didn’t name any specific gaming franchises, he was seemingly at least partially alluding to Grand Theft Auto since GTA 5 is now almost seven years old. So a sequel already feels long overdue.

Here’s Zelnick’s full statement on Take-Two’s development plans:

“We have set our strategy ... to have a strong frontline release schedule, both iterations from beloved franchises. We have 11 franchises that have sold in at least 5 million units within one release as well as new intellectual property, and we are working on the most robust pipeline in our history. So we're amazingly excited about it. That said, we haven't always been able to achieve our goal of having a strong frontline release schedule every year, even in the recent past.”
What gives? Is 'GTA 6' being released in 2020 or what?Rockstar Games / Take-Two Interactive

The Inverse Analysis

It’s no secret that Take-Two and Rockstar are cooking up GTA 6. It’s one of the most iconic franchises in gaming history, and with next-generation consoles slated for release in late 2020 these companies can leverage these new platforms in ways that seem like smart business. A full-fledged launch by early 2021, like Kirkland predicted, does seem overly optimistic.

GTA 5 had earned Rockstar $6 billion as of 2018 according to one report, and consistent GTA 5 Online updates continue to attract millions of gamers back to a game initially launched in 2013. In other words, Rockstar and Take-Two are in no dire need to push another GTA title out the door when the current entry still earns a lot of money for the companies.

A GTA 6 unveiling in late 2020 or early 2021 is completely possible, but don’t expect it to hit shelves by then. Rockstar first announced GTA 5 in October 2011 and shipped it two years later. That could serve as a cookie-cutter timeline for GTA 6’s release. Take-Two has other games it will ship in the near-future.

The company owns other franchises like BioShock, Borderlands, Civilization, and L.A. Noire to name a few. Any of these might see new installments or DLC updates soon. Rockstar job listings have hinted that GTA 6 could already be in the works, but GTA 5 is still so lucrative that the company is most likely focusing on crafting GTA 6 into a masterpiece rather than rushing to be a PS5 and Series X launch title.

There's no telling, however, how these companies might mix up the release timeline for GTA 6. A surprise-release with very little marketing beforehand has become quite trendy in video games thanks to Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone. Maybe it could work for GTA 6?

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