As a diehard Grand theft auto fan of the past 20 years of my life, always anticipating the next one. I couldn’t resist buying whatever version of the game they were peddling. But after 20 years of Rockstar Games and GTA Games dominating the market, we finally see the results of corporate arrogance placing future sequels at risk.
Since GTA V reached the prestigious title of most profitable entertainment product of all time, Rockstar started it’s slow downfall. It took years for people to realize it but it seems very obvious now. When I read that Dan Hauser who has co-written and hands-on produced the series and Rockstar original just left the company after a year long sabbatical I knew something was up. Shortly after Lazlow announced the same. These two people were the geniuses of the radio stations in the game and all the game dialogue. They’re not replaceable. What are they going to do for future games? Get a talentless hack/current cast member of SNL to write them so they can be as unfunny as their sketches? I’ll get into the decision making structure later. But when these two pillars of the past 8-9 games that made each sequel more successful and profitable than the previous, you can’t hello but be alarmed by that. If I was stock holder I would be asking some very stern and serious questions about that move.
I found that once GTA V’s online expansion, GTA Online was stabilized (and eventually frequently expanded for free) that this will be used to hold fans over. I thought it was a great idea at the time. As long as you had an online play subscription on a console (or free on PC) you could enjoy dozens more hours of the game. I was a huge fan of this as well as the frequent expansions that were being released for free. I praised Rockstar Games for the 7+ years of free content they provided in GTA Online. But as I played through the Casino expansion I started to relegalise something; I was playing a mobile game. GTA online consists of a constant competition arena (Loved the races the most) and one where you can grind money from various businesses in-game….. like Farmville…. you get it. When I realized I am just going through repetitive pointless gameplay I lost interest. The 100s of millions of dollars I had in game were pointless because there was nothing I wanted to spend it on.
It’s pretty clear others didn’t see it that way that year. As an article was released that claimed that GTA V had it’s best year ever in 2020 since they launched the game. I was baffled as I had stopped playing it the previous year. So good ole reddit tot he rescue to find out how this was possible. Turns out, when GTA Online cheaters are “Banned” only their license of the game gets banned. So what do they do? Buy a new key for $20. I know the kind of griefers that play online to piss off others. Most common thing being when you are doing a delivery and are almost at the mission end when some asshole in his flying Delorean blows me to bits. I have had to keep looking for empty rooms to play in. More than often I got a message when someone else joined “Hey man I am just trying to make money in game” and were relieved when I told them the same. Once in a while they ask for help and ask if you need help. It’s fun… until some asshole comes with their overpowered vehicle because they get yelled at by their mom IRL about playing this game too much and not going outside. On the other hand, I understand. The game is catered towards people like that. But if they are banning users when not really banning them, then what are they doing? Forcing these assholes to keep paying for a new licenses like they keep losing the games they rent from Blockbuster in the 90s. That is how the game made the most money in 2020 since launch. Nothing like a pandemic and lockdown to stimulate a bad attitude online but to make a quick buck off people like that as well. I wish there was a statistic how many keys users bought.
What was Rockstar’s takeaway from this? That they don’t need to create new content to make money off a near-10-year-old-game because people keep buying it. On a spreadsheet, that’s pretty much on-point. Thus, the re-re-release of GTA V on a THIRD generations of consoles. While this was met with mild reactions and generating comments like “Where is GTA 6?! After 8 years fans are starting to get antsy for some new action and story. So am I quite frankly (no pun intended) but why would they need to release another sequel when GTA online generated so much revenue for them? Red Dead online is definitely not generating that kind of buzz but it’s trying to keep up with GTA online additions. While most GTA fans likely play Red Dead as well they definitely are not as inclined to take it online. I also have not found myself wanting to play through red dead games again due to the mission lengths myself. So most go back to GTA online instead. However at this point the well is running dry. The fact that Re-re-release named “GTA V Enhanced Edition” (I swear that’s what I bought on PS4) on next gen consoles being delayed did not help. Comments on YouTube definitely showed that fans were starting to lose their patience with all this re-release crap.
That is until Rockstar decided to kneecap itself by announcing GTA trilogy: Definitive Edition and letting fans know they won’t have to wait long. Fans would have the game in their hands in a month after being announced on the 20th anniversary of GTA 3. They showed a trailer with ray tracing (PC of course) and then said it would release on Switch as well. I was actually looking forward to snagging a copy for switch…. that’s when Rockstar decided to double down on their flaccid performance of the past year and released a rushed, smeared, incomplete and completely abysmal product for the “Enhanced” price of CA$79.99. I wanted to give Rockstar the benefit of doubt here and let the product speak for itself. Boy did it ever. Since before the recent YouTube update, where you could no longer see the amount of dislikes, the trailer was one of the most thumbed down trailers and riddled with comments about refunds and Rockstar needing to be ashamed. The graphic and buggy mess that was on the mobile versions of the game is the code that was used to make the Definitive Edition. Just look at the videos on YouTube. From missing graphics to buddy environments and physics glitches. By now the backlash has echoed across the internet with Rockstar yet to respond to this abysmal mess. Did I mention the PC launch was delayed because they uploaded the wrong code version? If I was a shareholder I would be pissed. However, Take Two’s stock currently shows the stock having taken a hit of up to 15 points since the release and is nowhere near the year low. If I was a stockholder I would be asking some serious questions at the next shareholder’s meeting and asking whose idea it was to release this hack of a game to the public and it’s loyal fanbase. Honestly, without Grand Theft Auto what else does Take Two have? The 2K sports series and their abysmal wrestling games? Civilization?
Now to that formula I mentioned in the beginning. Having looked at everything, all R* has done is follow the Nintendo business model. As far as rabid loyalty is concerned, both have similar massive fanbases that will buy anything with their label on it. Rockstar having it’s best year in 2020 due to GTA V (again) proves that the business model works for them as well. The major difference however is that the big N has more than one franchise. It’s not just Mario and Linguini (I hate Luigi, the second banana). There is Pokémon, Pikmen, Smash brothers, Mario Kart and the list goes on to buffer the fans between releases. All Rockstar has is GTA and Red Dead. The latter of which peaked about a year after the release of Red Dead Online. By depending on that one title they managed themselves into a hole. But to find adding a buffer to the buffer they introduced a half-assed, outsourced piece of farbage that is not only 90% overpriced but plays like a damn Public Beta! My feeling is R* will either patch the games or abandon them. My money is on abandon. Mainly because of the amount of work it would take to fix the trilogy. (Note, since publication some of the issues were addressed but others were fixed by hackers on pirated versions of the game)
So what does all this mean for GTA 6? I think we will see a GTA IV remaster before we will ever see GTA 6. I expect the GTA IV remaster to flop as well unless that will be developed in house, which the definitive edition should’ve been (It’s definitive for gawd’s sake!) I am no longer looking forward to GTA 6 because it won’t come out for another 3-5 years. I mean if this is how they run their business now with the outsourcing, the disturbing normalcy of putting unfinished products out for sale and simply insulting the fans’ intelligence, I can’t say GTA 6 will be fantastic. You will either get a rushed POS or you’ll get a half assed rushed POS. Given their business practices over the past few years, I can no longer support this company nor this franchise financially. If this isn’t worth buying than neither will GTA 6. Even if GTA 6 is great, when will we get a trailer? 2023? With a release around early 2025? You, know, around the time good games start coming out for the PS5 and xboxsexbox.