The Grand Theft Auto fandom was thrown into disarray earlier today when Grand Theft Auto VI was seemingly announced via in-game GTA Online messages.
Since a message like that seems as official as it gets, many players were fooled and community sites were flooded with screenshots and speculation. However, as you might have guessed from the circumstances, it was all a hoax and GTA 6 is not coming in 2019.
GTA Online was filled with in-game pop-up messages announcing Grand Theft Auto 6, a projected release window of 2019 and statements that pre-orders were open. The messages also contained a link to Rockstar's home page. The in-game pop-ups seemed entirely legitimate, appearing as any other such notifications do. They professed "GTA VI Coming in 2019" and prompted players to pre-order in stylized yellow lettering.
Taken at face value, it was easy to assume that all of this was for real and Rockstar really had just announced GTA 6.... they likely announced it through other channels too, you just didn't notice since you are playing GTA Online, right? They advertised Red Dead Redemption 2 in-game as well, right? Considering how many people play GTA Online regularly, announcing the next title in-game actually makes a lot of sense in terms of audience reach, right?
Do a little digging, however, and the announcement starts being fishy even without Rockstar straight up denying it via social media, confirming that it is indeed a hoax.
Firstly, the pop-ups were only encountered on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 - meaning the three platforms where hacking GTA Online is still viable. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which could only be cheated via character transfers which are no longer available, didn't have the announcement pop-ups.
Of course, conceptually the whole thing reeks of being a hoax from the get-go.
Rockstar Games would never announce a new GTA title with a small, unceremonious pop-up in GTA Online and they certainly wouldn't announce it on the neck of Red Dead Redemption 2's pre-release period. This is a company that doesn't like its releases having competition, even if that competition is also their own game.
This is a hoax made with the use of mods, and not an official message or statement from Rockstar Games. *OV
— Rockstar Support (@RockstarSupport) July 2, 2018
The messages are the result of a hack. While most attempts to hack GTA Online are done in order to gain the unfair advantage or troll players with instakills, spawning infinite props to crash clients or straddle characters with hostile respawning clone NPCs, this is a community-level troll attempt. Admittedly, nothing like this was ever tried before which makes it borderline impressive, but then it did have side effects of ruining server stability and booting players out of sessions.
Rockstar Games have taken to Twitter to officially state that the announcement was a hoax, the result of a hack and is in no way legitimate or official. Any kind of announcement or confirmation of whatever is next for the GTA franchise is likely years off, so you shouldn't hold your breaths waiting for it.