With both Sony and Microsoft having dropped hints that the next-gen will kick off in 2020, it makes sense that the big developers are gearing up for the new technology and hardware. Rockstar Games has posted several job openings related to next-gen developments, some of which hint at what the future may hold for Grand theft Auto.
Among a sweeping number of job openings throughout all of Rockstar's many offices around the globe, many descriptions hint at "next-generation worlds for some exciting upcoming projects". The use of next-generation out of context can be construed as merely being a buzzword to indicate high quality content, but considering we're a year away from the predicted beginning of the 9th console generation, it may be taken more literally.
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Rockstar Games does things in very specific ways and over the years their style and tactics have become rather clear. They release few games, with large gaps in between launches, but the quality of those games are always stellar. They stick to a relatively small portfolio of hit franchises and rarely release multiple titles in the same franchise back to back, in order to avoid franchise fatigue.
Of their IP, GTA and Red Dead are the most popular and long-lived. Following the breakaway success of GTA 5, there was never any question about whether we'll see a sequel. With GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, we saw two radically different approaches to console generations.
GTA 5 was released right at the turnover of the 7th and 8th console gens. Developed with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in mind, the eventual re-release for the new platforms didn't make complete use of the new hardware - not that the ports were ugly in any sense. Red Dead Redemption 2, on the other hand, was developed for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 from the get-go and released near the tail-end of this generation, making the most of the hardware.
One of the main tells that something is brewing on the GTA front is the job listing for a vehicle artist, whose tasks would include "sculpting and texturing a diverse range of vehicles of all types; including but not limited to Cars, Trucks & Vans, Motorbikes, Helicopters, Planes, Military, and Boats". That lineup of vehicles sounds very much like what we'd expect from a GTA title.
While the continued profitability of GTA Online means we can still expect to get regular content updates for the game, it makes sense that Rockstar would start preparing for the future of the franchise on the new consoles possibly coming out as soon as next year. We highly doubt that GTA 5 will be ported to the PS5 and whatever the new Xbox will be called (please don't be "Xbox Two"), meaning that the massive player base dedicated to GTA will need a new home on the new systems.
The GTA 6 rumor-mill has never truly let up since the release of 5, and the impending release of the new consoles certainly won't help. That said, Rockstar always take their time with development, and since 5 years passed between the release of GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 - granted, the latter was delayed several times - we wouldn't peg any future GTA games to launch anytime before 2022.
GTA 5 has already made colossal amounts of money, and the numbers also show that in the first couple years of a new console generation the previous gen still retains a large player base. Even if the next GTA game is released several years into Generation 9, current-gen GTA Online players, and a potential next-gen Red Dead Redemption 2 port, will tide things over.
That said, if you think you have the skills and qualifications, look through the listings and drop Rockstar an application - you just might be involved in the future of Grand Theft Auto.