GTA Online is just about the best example of an overwhelming success in the video game industry. Its ever increasing popularity against factors such as age and other major releases flies in the face of everything we know about the lifecycle of an AAA game. The kind of sales figures we see seemingly ensured the game's future.
It's not just deduction based on the financial success that leads people to think that Online will charge ahead with full force for years to come, either. Rockstar themselves have expressed plans to keep GTA 5's multiplayer component updated with new content at least through the year 2020, but even beyond if the demand is still there.
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And the demand is there. In spite of the game having recently celebrated its third anniversary, player numbers are trending upwards instead of down, which is an unprecedented feat. Instead of gradually bleeding players, as is the case with pretty much all other games this old, GTA Online is picking up steam.
Many times, some people have prophecised the "end" of GTA Online would arrive. When Rockstar ceased content support of the previous-gen consoles, many thought it would kill Online because of the disillusioned players. Instead, sales were boosted by everyone migrating over to PC and current-gen.
Each time a major game with a multiplayer component was launched, they were declared "GTA killers". But in the end, Online's player base kept growing. Mafia 3 was also called a GTA killer prior to launch, even though it didn't have a multiplayer mode (for this very reason, possibly). When it released to lukewarm reviews, it was clear that it's no killer.
Most recently, the announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2 spawned a new wave of end-times prophecizing, and this is the claim with the most credibility. It's a major release, developed by Rockstar, and will have a multiplayer component similar to GTA Online. Surely, the developer will focus on this and bump down GTA a few notches?
In spite of a number of signs that this actually isn't the case, as well as strong arguments as to why conceptually doing so would be a poor business decision, according to acclaimed and oft-proven leaker Yan2295, this might actually be happening.
Whenever we speak about any kind of leaks related to GTA 5, we always point out that no matter how many times a leaker got it right, no matter what kind of proof they profess to have and no matter how "legit" it all seems, never take it as a guarantee. Anything that comes from a source other than Rockstar Games itself is suspect and should be scrutinized.
That said, Yan2295 isn't your typical leaker who talks out of their ass just to grab those juicy guaranteed clicks for ad revenue. GTA Online is an extremely hot topic even today, and leaks are the hottest discussions, making fake leaks a quick and simple way to grab a few minutes of internet fame. Not that it's worth it since you'll be "blacklisted" by the people reading and they'll know to stay away after a stunt or two.
Yan2295, on the other hand, is a tidy, upright kind of leaker. He's almost always right and very frequently backs up claims with data mined from game files. While "I have a source in Rockstar" is the most transparent of clichés, in his case it seems to be true, since info cited to have originated from this mysterious source also proved to be true in the past.
It's real show-biz here. You have the underdog leaker "giving to the people" with a shady inside-man feeding him info. It's like a spy thriller, but about video games instead of government secrets. Well, the latest piece of intelligence that Yan "heard" is that GTA Online will stop getting new content very soon.
Now, we'd like to stress the previous point about not taking this at face value - it's a rumor at most - and Yan says so himself. His post itself is mostly deduction and speculation based on what he's heard, so even if the info is correct, it does not mean the analysis is too.
Basically, Rockstar Games has several studios doing different things. Rockstar North handles GTA while San Diego is developing Red Dead Redemption 2. If the information is correct, North has been restructured into four teams. One is helping San Diego with Red Dead, one is developing the next GTA game, another is working on a new unannounced project and the last slice is working on GTA Online.
Let's look at this setup. It seems legitimate that a portion of North is helping in with Red Dead Redemption 2. With a fall release date scheduled, either the game has wrapped up development recently or is currently in the "crunch" phase. With Rockstar's tendency to delay games, for all we know RDR2 will be pushed to 2018 and the crunch is only just beginning.
As for the next GTA game being in development, well, it seems likely too. However, this would be only the initial stages of the development cycle, which is why only a small portion of people are working on it. GTA 5 was under development for 6 years, so it seems realistic that the next title is already a work-in-progress.
The team working on another unannounced project is where this starts shaking a bit. Firstly, Rockstar has a reputation for developing few games with large gaps in between, distributed among different studios. Having Rockstar North work on four games at once, of which only two are GTA, would be highly uncharacteristic of them.
Then we have the last chunk of devs who still work on Online DLC. This also seems plausible, since the updates are small enough to be developed quickly by a small team while the others work on bigger projects. In the end, the team working on the unannounced project is the only part of this setup that seems suspect.
But what about the future of GTA Online? Well, according to Yan, Rockstar Games wanted to cease DLC support in 2016 with Import/Export being the last update for the game. Thinking about it, the whole "return to the roots of the franchise" with placing the stealing of cars in the spotlight would have worked as a send-off.
Don't you think that the Import/Export update felt different and would have been a good way to end GTA Online updates? Well that's because if you go back around a year, that's exactly what they wanted to do. I/E was supposed to be the last GTA Online update.
However, GTA Online is insanely profitable thanks to Shark Cards, and the suits over at Take-Two want that crispy microtransaction revenue. So, Yan says that Rockstar has been ordered to keep up content support for Online until Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released. This is where the leaked info turns into conjecture, but logic does support Yan's scenario to an extent.
They're out of ideas and of resources at this point. So what happens when the devs are out of ideas and resources, but they are forced to make more updates? They will come up with smaller and less creative updates, maybe re-using content from previous updates and use them in a different way.
Now, on the one hand, it's true that forced content will not have the kind of creativity and soul that content created with enthusiasm is imbued with, it's also true that even if Rockstar is out of ideas, they need only look to the community. We saw with Bikers that the devs are more than open to community suggestions, seeing as the DLC is pretty much exactly what was described in the petition.
There are plenty of DLC ideas floating around community websites that would be awesome additions to GTA Online. The whole Tuners and Outlaws concept which had a fan-made trailer and a petition of its own was so authentic that it had people fooled into thinking it's an actual DLC.
Don't even get us - or the community - started on how awesome a police DLC would be. Players have been clamoring for such an update longer than they did for Bikers. There you have two major update concepts on a silver platter, and it's not like Rockstar Games is a studio know to run out of ideas quickly.
We here at GTA BOOM have very often explored the topic of how GTA Online will change with the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 and its own Online mode. Over several lengthy, in-depth articles we've explained and analyzed the situation coming to the conclusion that RDR2 likely won't kill GTA Online.
GTA is too secure a source of revenue for Take-Two to axe. While GTA has immense mainstream appeal and a massive audience spread across five platforms, Red Dead is only popular among the core gaming community and RDR2 will only be released on two platforms.
Chances are only a small fraction of Online's playerbase will migrate to RDR2, meaning that GTA will continue to generate tons of cash, making continued content support profitable. While RDR2 is a risk and it definitely won't reach the same level of success, Online is a steady and guaranteed source of income.
In fact, it's likely that Red Dead Redemption 2's release will force Rockstar to release a major update for GTA Online to mitigate the leeching effects of the new title being released. In the end, while there might be some factors supporting Yan2295's stance on the matter, you probably don't need to worry about GTA Online going under with the release of RDR2.
Do you think GTA Online will stop getting DLC when Red Dead Redemption 2 is released, or are you sure Rockstar will continue content support?