GTA Online Changed How We Play Video Games Forever
What a decade it’s been.
Grand Theft Auto V was an enormous hit right away, earning over $800 million in sales within its first 24 hours on the market. But while the single-player portion of the game appealed to a wide audience on day one, GTA Online kept players engaged for years to come.
GTA Online was first revealed on August 15, 2013, and in the decade since, Rockstar has expanded the experience with countless updates. GTA Online completely changed the landscape of online gaming — and not always for the better.
Online gaming was prevalent in 2013, but few console games had large, living worlds that constantly evolved. After GTA Online came out on October 1, 2013, it set the world on fire. It gave players the freedom to do what they wanted and kept them coming back with major updates that added stuff like Heists, the Content Creator, and the Diamond & Casino Resort.
Other developers and publishers attempted to replicate Rockstar’s success, often with middling results. A few years after GTA Online’s release, we started seeing a slew of live-service games — many of which came and went — such as Evolve, Battleborn, Paragon, and even Star Wars: Battlefront II. Publishers scrambled to recapture the magic of GTA Online, but many of them failed. Sure, some games like Destiny and Fortnite managed to break through, but a majority of online experiences were squashed by the competition.
Many developers ventured into uncharted territory by trying to create and support live-service games, resulting in mediocre experiences that couldn’t keep up. This led to a bombardment of live-service games that saturated the market. Today, many publishers have learned their lesson, instead playing to their strengths rather than attempting to be the next GTA Online. But in 2015, single-player games certainly suffered as publishers shifted focus to live-service.
Aside from its rocky influence on the industry, GTA Online also impacted the development of the next mainline GTA game. To this day, Rockstar still hasn’t officially unveiled the next GTA entry, though we do know it’s in the works. GTA Online is Rockstar’s main cash cow, generating hundreds of millions of dollars each year. From Rockstar’s perspective, it definitely makes sense to pour so much into GTA Online, but that isn’t necessarily what’s best for the players.
Likewise, GTA Online also ruined any chances of getting single-player DLC for GTA V, which was immensely disappointing. Given the quality of GTA IV’s DLC, many were hopeful Rockstar would release additional content for GTA V, which never materialized.
For the countless players who have wanted a new single-player GTA experience, the wait has been agonizing. There used to be a time when Rockstar would release a new GTA game every couple of years. But now, players have eagerly been waiting for over a decade to play the next game in the series — and we aren’t even sure when GTA 6 will finally launch.
GTA Online will likely have an impact on the next game, as well. It’s unclear if the entire experience will be online-focused, or if there will be a separate single-player portion. But you can bet that GTA Online will undoubtedly be present in some form as part of the next GTA game. If there is a single-player mode in GTA 6, will it suffer due to Rockstar pouring so many resources into the online component? It’s too early to tell, but we’re hoping for a robust offline experience that mirrors earlier installments.
Rockstar struck gold with GTA Online, which certainly deserves most of the praise it’s received over the years. But it’s also somewhat responsible for influencing an overabundance of live-service games, while slowing down GTA 6’s development.