EVERYTHING I HATE ABOUT GAMING HYPE TRAIN IS HIGHLIGHTED IN ROCKSTAR’S GTA 6 CONFESSION.
The way video games are developed and advertised must change. The sneaky GTA 6 confirmation from Rockstar Games, the creators of Grand Theft Auto, is proof of that. Even though we all know this game exists, its official announcement comes as an existential shrug at the conclusion of yet another GTA 5 port news release.
Rockstar Games revealed a release date and further information for GTA 5 on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S on February 4, 2022. According to the “Community Update,” there will be “GTAV for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, Updates to GTA Online, and More.”As it turns out, that “extra” includes Rockstar’s first formal confirmation that GTA 6 is in the works.
Because of GTA 5’s remarkable lifespan, “we know many of you have been asking us about a new chapter in the Grand Theft Auto series,” it says. With every new project we take on, our objective is to go above and beyond what we’ve previously delivered — and we’re excited to announce that active work for the next Grand Theft Auto game is well underway. We’ll have more information as soon as we get it, so stay tuned to the Rockstar Newswire for official details. “
All video games go through pre-production, production, and post-production, whether they’re independent or big-budget productions like GTA 6. There’s the planning stage, the development stage, and finally the bug-fixing and polishing steps. We know that exploratory work on GTA 5 started in April 2008 and that the whole development process took three years. So, if Rockstar is publicly admitting that GTA 6 is in “active production,” it’s a positive indicator that things are going along well — but it’s also a confession that the business has been working on it for a long time.
So, why did it take Rockstar so long to acknowledge what everyone already knew?
GTA 6 has been the subject of rumours and supposed leaks for years. The game’s predecessor, GTA 5, was published in September of 2013. The first credible allegations about the sequel’s development surfaced in April 2020, when games writer Jason Schreier of Kotaku revealed that Rockstar was reconsidering its development strategy for the game.
For the next game, a new entry in the Grand Theft Auto series, one plan that management has laid out is to start 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, “he wrote at the time.
In an interview with Inverse a month later, he said, “I don’t believe it’s any huge secret that they’re working on another GTA.”
In other words, GTA 6’s development was kept a closely guarded secret for over two years. Why? Who benefited from that? What’s the reasoning behind it? Even if the game was still in pre-production, a wiser way would have been to release the February 2022 statement in April 2020 instead.
When questioned about potential GTA 5 announcements during a September 2009 earnings conference, Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of GTA producer Take-Two Interactive, got a little fired up.
We’re not going to announce it, we’re not going to say when we’re going to reveal it, and we’re not going to announce a strategy for announcing it, when we’re going to disclose it, or for the announcement strategy around the strategy,” Zelnick added. Wow. Okay,
Take-Two has a history of keeping big announcements like this under wraps for as long as possible, and with good reason. Take a look at the issues that afflicted Cyberpunk 2077: The game was announced in 2012, teased in 2013, and eventually published in December 2020 following a massive advertising effort that included Keanu Reeves appearing on stage in front of a throng of shouting fans at E3 2019. By most accounts, Cyberpunk 2077 is a complete disaster. It was one of the most shaky and underwhelming big-budget debuts in contemporary history. Mostly, it’s the result of an eight-year hype train that raised unrealistic expectations.
The remake of Final Fantasy VII, on the other hand, had the opposite effect: The game was announced at E3 2015 and took over five years to develop, but when it was released in April 2020, it was polished, refined, engaging, and exciting for both beginners and Final Fantasy enthusiasts.
It makes little difference how or when you announce an excellent game that is free of problems.
Secrecy is less effective than it always was in managing expectations in an increasingly digital environment when rumours and leaks spread like wildfire and fans have so many strong views online. We have full-on transparency on the other end of the spectrum.
Early access releases and continuous upgrades have characterised some of gaming’s greatest hits in recent memory. Fortnite was famously under “Early Access” for three years, and its continued popularity is largely due to its growth over time, which includes new seasonal content and map modifications. The legendary roguelike Hades was in Early Access from its announcement at The Game Awards 2018 to its official release in September 2020. After that, it was pretty much everyone’s Game of the Year.
Despite the fact that Warframe, Anthem, and Outriders were all dubbed “Destiny-killers” by the industry, Destiny 2 continues to flourish today, owing in part to a comprehensive and open development process. Anthem is no longer alive. Outriders? It’s no longer a topic of conversation. Bungie’s method of game production has proven so effective that Sony purchased the firm earlier this week, not for the Destiny series, but for the company’s successful and seemingly unstoppable approach to game development.
The Inverse Analysis: The basic conclusion is that Rockstar Games‘ decision to keep GTA 6 under wraps for so long seems to be a little absurd. If managing expectations is an issue, openness is the best approach to address it. Even if you forgo some of the buzz produced by absolute secrecy, it won’t matter in the end if creators can offer a quality gaming experience. The GTA 6 revelation, on the other hand, seems to be the least fascinating piece of gaming news to emerge from the action-packed first few weeks of 2022.