Rockstar Games might be breaking the decade-long trend of releasing a Grand Theft Auto title, then another IP, then GTA again on repeat. If a new rumor is to believed, the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 will be followed by not another GTA game, but rather a sequel to Rockstar's cult-favorite, Bully.
The rumors come from GameZone, a publication which claims to have a source close to Rockstar who knows about the inner workings of the company. While this is extremely flimsy as far as sources go, especially without any proof whatsoever, the possibility of a sequel to Bully being in development is plausible.
As opposed to Rockstar's typical violence laden productions which courted controversy through explicit content, Bully decided to go for a more reserved, but no less satirical, boarding school setting in a small English town. Of course, the game was still controversial due to the depiction and alleged glorification of bullying, but hey, this is Rockstar - it would be weird if a game they make isn't controversial.
While the fighting was reduced to schoolyard scuffles with the occasional use of a slingshot, and high-octane highway chases were replaced with riding from one objective to another at a brisk pace with a bicycle, one thing remained - Rockstar's expert grasp of narrative design and inherent satirical humor.
Even in 2006, when the game was released, Bully did open world gameplay better than most other titles, with a small but detailed world that encouraged explorations. The game was filled with all kinds of side activities which, due to the atypical setting, were fairly fresh and unique compared to the offerings of other games.
The game, in spite of critical praise, never became a massive hit. A moderate success, Bully sort of faded from the collective consciousness of the gaming community while retaining a cult following and fan base. Being a Rockstar title, the Bully IP still has quite a bit of weight, partially thanks to the several re-releases the game has received over various platforms, such as newer consoles, PC and mobile.
Gaming has evolved a lot in the past eleven years, and so have development cycles. Rockstar has several studios with countless employees spread across multiple countries. North usually deals with GTA and also assists with other projects, San Diego is currently working on Red Dead Redemption 2, and the other two main development studios are working on undisclosed projects - one of which may be Bully 2.
Rockstar has for a very long time been known as "the company that makes GTA". While the hype around the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 will hammer home the concept that, yes, these folks can make other games as well, too many of Rockstar's fantastic IPs are mainly forgotten. A sequel to Bully will put the first title on the radar of countless new gamers who weren't invested in the medium back in 2006.
It makes sense to pull out an old IP, since Take-Two is already juggling countless franchises, and Bully has brand recognition as an acclaimed Rockstar franchise. At the same time, after more than a decade, the concept will be fresh again, not to mention how different a school setting would be today considering how much education, and the lives of students, have changed.
A new Bully game would be vastly different from the typical mischief-filled pranks of the first game. The lives of kids and teens these days are far more entwined with technology (hello social media!), and the game would need to reflect this.
GameZone's source also allegedly confirmed that after a tumultuous development cycle, the once-announced but never released PlayStation exclusive, Agent, is still under development and hasn't been scrapped.
If these rumors turn out to be legit, we'll be seeing a healthy shakeup of Rockstar's typical portfolio in the coming years. Hopefully, this is a sign for the future as well, and we'll see them branching out into other settings and genres.