In spite of its age, Grand Theft Auto Online was stronger in 2019 than before, with the highest number of players the game has ever seen. Rockstar has been pushing new and exciting content updates including the long-awaited Diamond Casino & Resort, and then let players rob the thing at the end of the year.
But what can we expect from the game in 2020?
Based on the direction Rockstar took GTA Online in the past few years, we can make some educated guesses as to what players should expect this year, and we also have a few ideas about how the game will weather the impending launch of the next generation of consoles.
2020: Online Only
Nobody will win any prizes for figuring this part out, but it's pretty clear that Rockstar Games is only developing anything new for GTA Online at this point. GTA 5's single-player portion will remain unchanged most likely for all eternity, barring the inevitable patches cutting licensed music that no doubt expire in a couple of years.
However, despite being 6 years old, and Rockstar having released Red Dead Redemption 2 with its own Online mode since, GTA Online is still seeing huge player numbers and significant income via microtransactions. As a result, we can expect more DLC this year.
GTA Online players love heists. Back when the original Heists was released, these multi-mission end-game capers became the game's own take on "raids" that traditional MMOs thrive on.
With their major payouts, heists remain one of the best ways to make GTA$, and fans were clamoring for more. Both The Doomsday Heist and the Diamond Casino Heist are huge successes with the community, and it's clear that Rockstar knows what players want.
That said, both those additional heists proved that a simple bank robbery just won't cut it anymore. Even the original heists showed greater range. What will the next heist be? A secret military complex? An Epsilon facility? A long-lost bunker? We'll have to wait and see.
The racing community is among GTA Online's largest and liveliest, owing to the huge variety and number of races present in the game. From simple, basic races you have everything such as Stunt races, Transform races through RC Bandito races, and all of these have their own Creators too, allowing players to make their own tracks.
Rockstar keeps finding new ways to spice up "be first across the finish line" and they have plenty of existing content to draw inspiration from. Races are clearly popular, and frankly, relatively easy to make in terms of development. Expect to see more racing content in 2020.
Next-Gen: Port or Sequel?
The biggest question hanging over 2020 is how Rockstar will be handling the arrival of the next generation. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have both been revealed and will be launching later this year.
Normally, we wouldn't be looking at any kind of connection between the upcoming consoles and a 6-year-old game, but the fact of the matter is that GTA 5 keeps selling like hotcakes, beating new AAA releases off sales charts. It is very much a live product.
Rockstar isn't known for pumping out big AAA titles with any kind of frequency, and by their standards, Red Dead Redemption 2 is "recent". We don't see GTA 6, or whatever it will be called, releasing anytime soon - certainly not this year - but we also doubt that Rockstar will just ignore the new generation of consoles.
We're almost certain that RDR2 will be ported, much like GTA 5 was ported from Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to the current-gen upon their launch, but it might be a bit of a stretch for GTA 5 to jump to the next-gen a second time. Will Rockstar allow the PS5 and XBX (?) to finally "kill" GTA 5, or will they find a way to have it persevere through 2020 and 2021, and beyond?
The fact that GTA Online, and by extension GTA 5, is doing so well this long after release is an anomaly, and something Rockstar and Take-Two likely didn't account for back in the day. One possible solution is to re-evaluate how the company approaches the franchise. Maybe GTA 5 will be the Windows 10 of the IP - not to be followed by a sequel, but to be eternally iterated upon, re-released onto whatever hardware is current and constantly improved and added to.
What do you think 2020 will hold for Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online?