Even though we haven't had so much as an official announcement of confirmation, the hypothetical Grand Theft Auto 6 remains one of the most talked about games that don't exist yet. We know it's under some form of development, but beyond that we only have rumors and less-than-credible leaks to rely on. While popular speculation and rumors keep predicting a GTA 6 launch in the coming months or sometime in 2022, a reputable leaker claims that day is still many years away.
As far as the official stance is concerned, Rockstar Games' current GTA related efforts consist of prettying up GTA 5 for yet another port, this time jumping to the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. While the game is currently playable on these systems thanks to backwards compatibility, a bigger project to bring the title onto the current gen is under development, which according to Take-Two Interactive is more than 'just a simple port'. Graphical and technical improvements taking advantage of the new hardware are to be expected, and the new editions are set to launch later this year.
Many popular rumors and unconfirmed leaks peg 2022 as the year when we'll finally get our hands on GTA 6, with some particularly optimistic bets hedged on this year's holiday season. These are awfully unlikely if you subscribe to common sense, but if you don't, there's a leaker here to tell you anyway.
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Define "soon." Companies test games for *years*.
(And last year Rockstar internally had GTA VI set for a late 2023 release) https://t.co/Cr0Q3tKhFp
— ViewerAnon (@ViewerAnon) May 3, 2021
Though mostly reputed in the movie industry, Twitter user ViewerAnon has had some inside scoops on game development matters in the past that turned out true, and the two industries intersect more and more, especially in professional spheres. With recent job postings that got a little too much public attention revealing that Rockstar is hiring testers for GTA 6, many rumor mills took this as a sign that the game was soon to be released.
Responding to these claims of a release coming 'soon', ViewerAnon pointed out that game companies test their products for years on end - a detail you don't need to be a leaker to know, just someone with passing familiarity with the way this industry works. The interesting 'inside scoop' here is that allegedly internal development timelines projected GTA 6 as having a release date sometime in 2023.
Since this information is at least a year old, it may be out of date due to the huge changes that basically every company's pipeline went through during the COVID-19 pandemic. Between the lockdowns forcing many studios to switch to a Work-From-Home model and Rockstar Games' notorious propensity for delays, we'd guess late 2023 is the earliest possible time to expect a launch, but even that seems very optimistic.
Many leakers agree that Rockstar Games won't be officially acknowledging the existence of GTA 6 until after the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S ports of GTA 5, mainly for marketing reasons. Why would you distract potential customers of a new product with the announcement of a newer, more exciting product?
While we still have to wait a good long time for GTA 6, there is already plenty we think we know. Parsing all the various rumors and leaks, a few common points arise which seem most plausible - though as always, don't take anything as certain unless it comes from Rockstar itself. It seems that the game will take players back to Vice City, and will take place decades in the past. While leaks suggest the story will have at least one time skip, we expect the majority of it to happen in the 80's.
Possibly even more interesting is that the new release will de-emphasize multiplayer, if it will have an online mode at all. You'd think this is surprising following the insane success of GTA Online, which is Take-Two's main source of revenue to this day, but actually that success is the reason why the company decided against a "GTA Online 2".
When the next-gen ports of GTA 5 will launch later this year, GTA Online will also break off from the main games and become a standalone, free-to-play title. Since GTA Online generates the majority of its revenue via microtransactions, the best business approach is to get the game into the hands of the highest number of possible customers - which is done by going free-to-play. Since the title is such an unprecedented hit, Rockstar Games will keep it alive in a standalone form alongside GTA 6, which will focus on a single player experience and be a more humble release to alleviate crunch for the devs.
We still don't know when exactly Rockstar Games plans to release the next-gen ports of GTA 5, though we suspect some form of announcement will come soon. Since this isn't a brand new game, they probably won't wait the usual one year between announcement and release, so we predict an official announcement sometime this summer with a launch in the fall.
In any case, don't hold your breath for any official GTA 6 news until after that - and be prepared to wait for a few more years to play it.