Grand Theft Auto 5 was released back in 2013 and players have been waiting on news of the franchise's future more or less since.
But nearly six years later, by which time many franchises would have rolled out as many new entries, we don't even have official confirmation that there will be a GTA 6.
Obviously we know there will be a GTA 6 due to hypothetical references to the future of the franchise and the obvious profit that GTA 5 has been generating all this time, but players have been waiting for more than half a decade now. That said, this isn't unusual given the franchise's history.
It may all be about to change though...
Rockstar is known for being secretive and taking its time between releases. Seven years passed between the two Red Dead Redemption games and five years passed between GTA 4 and 5. Speaking with Gamesindustry.biz, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick touched upon this topic, and stated that if anything, the time between future releases will be decreasing instead of expanding even further.
I don't see it expanding further. In fact, I would expect in many instances it may compress.
The success of the GTA Online model may have been part of what influenced Rockstar and Take-Two to sit on any future game in the GTA franchise, since the constant engagement with the player base through DLC and microtransactions - as controversial as they may be - has proven to be a great source of income. Due to GTA Online's continuing success, it seems like Take-Two felt no great rush to get to the next game.
However, the way the industry is shifting, Take-Two may have more of an inclination to release GTA games more frequently going forward. Zelnick mentioned that Rockstar's development teams have grown and the tools used in the creation of games have improved, which could factor into shorter development cycles.
On the other hand, the increasing prevalence of the "game as a service" model seems attractive to Take-Two, and they might prefer to release shorter, smaller games more frequently, which they then intend to support with further content.
GTA 5 was released during a highly transitional period for games. It was launched on the cusp of a new console generation and during a time when AAA publishers were exploring new monetization methods. Single player DLC that expands the game's story was planned, but scrapped in favor of GTA Online.
While, at face value, waiting less in between games seems like a good thing, the reasoning might be cause for some concern. This makes it seem like the overwhelming success of GTA Online will be pushing Rockstar to focus on that aspect in future games. Shorter, smaller games released more frequently with content updates translates to a potentially gutted and shortened single-player campaign with a multiplayer mode that would get DLC, while the single player wouldn't.
Additionally, while larger dev teams and better tools can truly reduce development time, with the industry's penchant for heavy and unhealthy crunch times these past years, it might not seem like the most ethical choice to push out more games, and then to continue to support them with content post-launch on tight schedules. These are the kinds of situations which lead to crunch.
We're curious to see how GTA 6 will shape up, once the game is actually announced in some capacity.