GTA Online's community is worried and uncertain about the game's future. People are concerned about how long Rockstar will maintain content support for the title in light of its age and the upcoming release of Red Dead Redemption 2. Some rumors that started circulating earlier this year didn't help either. However both of Rockstar's recent announcements as well as common sense should be laying any worries to rest.
While there are arguments to support both positions, the evidence pointing to GTA Online continuing to enjoy the good graces and content support of its creators for the next few years is overwhelming and greatly outnumbers that which would suggest an impending soft-end where the servers are left running but no new content is created.
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And yet if one were to parse the various community sites and forums dedicated to the game, they'd see that worry and doubt is rife. The upcoming gunrunning DLC teased in a Newswire article almost doesn't seem to be public knowledge and many are surprised when it's brought up during these discussions.
GUNRUNNING AND MORE COMING LATER THIS SPRING & SUMMER
Stock up and bunker down as you take on the craziest militias across the state of San Andreas in another massive update for GTA Online. Featuring brand new weaponized vehicles and exciting new missions, get ready to fight for supremacy in the illegal arms trade and wage war with the latest in high-powered military hardware.
But where were these worries coming from? The main two sources are Red Dead Redemption 2 and an ill-fated rumor that was started up by one of the more reputable leakers in the community. However, both of these have plenty of counter arguments to face against which they stand on shaky ground.
First of all, the idea that Red Dead Redemption 2 means Rockstar can't continue to support GTA Online with the current level of content is fallacious on multiple levels. People need to understand that "Rockstar Games" as we know it is made up of several studios. Rockstar North, responsible for GTA Online, only has a minor role in the development of Red Dead Redemption 2, the bulk of which was done by Rockstar San Diego.
This split will likely carry over to post-launch as well, so it's not like all the folks making GTA Online DLC now will be busy making Red Dead Online DLC after the game is finally released. Also, many people easily forget that the development cycle of an AAA title lasts a good 5 years usually, and more when it comes to Rockstar. So the truly intensive portion of the game's development is already behind us. Did that put a stop to GTA Online DLC? Not even remotely.
Another thing to consider is the relative workload of developing DLC compared to developing a whole game. In contrast to the entirety of Grand Theft Auto 5's vanilla version, even larger updates like Further Adventures in Finance and Felony, for example, are comparatively simple to develop. Once Red Dead Redemption 2 has gone gold, even if Rockstar North takes a somewhat larger role in post-launch content support, they would still have plenty of capacity to continue supporting GTA Online.
As for the rumor, well, it never was anything more than that. A reputable leaker with quite a few correct reveals under his belt said something along the lines of an acquaintance who works at Rockstar telling him that things will slow down this year, culminating in the final end to all DLC. While the release schedule has been a tad more sparse this year than the last at this same time period, it lines up with the release schedules of the year before.
Add to that Rockstar's own recent declaration that they fully intend to continue supporting GTA Online with DLC in the long term after the December of 2016 was the busiest month for the game in its entire history. And why would they slow things down when the game is so popular?
We've spoken about how GTA would work well as a cinematic universe, or even a multimedia property recently, and those articles weren't merely the product of wishful thinking - the success and popularity are real. GTA 5 is still breaking sales records, still pulling insane amounts of revenue through microtransactions. No company in its right mind would slow things down.
In the past, Take-Two expressed an intent to keep GTA Online going strong until at least 2020, and that plan was set up based on metrics from over a year ago. Seeing as the game has only grown in terms of players and popularity since, it's safe to assume that the "deadline", if you could call it that, has been extended. Keep in mind that they knew full and well the potential of Red Dead Redemption 2 back then too.
The fact of the matter, and this is something Red Dead fans are quick to forget, is that the Red Dead franchise just doesn't have the mainstream pull of GTA. Oh, we don't doubt that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be a commercial success, nailing itself to the top of the sales charts for several weeks, but it won't touch GTA 5's record. The potential audience is significantly smaller, as the game will mostly be bought by the core gaming community as opposed to mainstream consumers.
Any analyst worth their buck will tell you that Red Dead Redemption 2 can't and won't match the performance of GTA 5. There are a number of factors at play here, such as the smaller number of platforms on which it will launch, lack of a staggered release schedule and no benefit from almost a decade's worth of publicity, fame, and controversy.
Take-Two would hardly give up the source of GTA Online's immense recurrent player spending revenue - the DLC - in favor of such a risky play when the current method is basically printing money for the company. Making GTA Online DLC is cheap while bringing in massive profits. Why would they stop?
Players need to understand that Rockstar and Take-Two are big enough in the industry to keep multiple plates spinning at the same time. It is hardly unheard of for one publisher to support two games with content simultaneously, and the idea among fans that Rockstar should not qualify is as puzzling as it is incorrect.
Gunrunning is the next major DLC slated to arrive in GTA Online, but there is no need to herald it as the 'last DLC' or anything of the sort, it's just going to be the biggest one this year. What the future may hold beyond it is still unclear, but one thing is almost guaranteed - it holds more DLC. The question is, what form will that DLC take?
In any case, fans have been writing up their expectations of gunrunning on community sites already, and we've done a fair bit of speculation about what is shaping up to be 2017's biggest update ourselves. We know there will be militias, weaponized vehicles and that it might tie into the Bikers DLC from last year.
As for the distant future, there have been plenty of ideas flying around as well. Map expansions, further contact missions... with so many possibilities, the questions outnumber the answers, with just one certainty - GTA Online isn't done just yet.