There's no denying Grand Theft Auto 5 is an excellent game. However, Grand Theft Auto 5 is also an undoubtedly old game. It was first released on the PS3 and Xbox 360, both of which are now long retired consoles. GTA 5 came out a year later on the more relevant PS4 and Xbox One, and another year later on PC, but it sometimes shows some age as a game originally developed for PS3 and Xbox 360. These consoles were already aged at the time GTA 5 released.
One big reason GTA 5 has stayed this long Grand Theft Auto Online. The online multiplayer component of GTA 5 was released in October 2013, a month after the release of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, and from then on it was available at launch for every other version of the game. GTA Online Rockstar happened to be the perfect introduction to treating GTA 5 as a live service game; Rockstar continues to add new missions and storylines GTA Online regularly. In other words, after realizing how valuable GTA 5 was to its brand, Rockstar found a very convenient way to extend GTA 5's life and made the most of it.
GTA Online updates are slowing down, but Rockstar has found another way to get a few more years out of its home game: next-gen consoles. PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of GTA 5 will be released in March next year, proving that the heavier motor vehicle theft franchise is not going that fast, even though Rockstar has bought eight years to develop a new GTA game already. After a PS5 trailer in September for GTA 5 and GTA Online, the cracks are starting to show. Fans aren't happy with the next-gen re-releases, and generally aren't happy about GTA 5's apparent immortality.
Grand Theft Auto 5: The PS5 Trailer Backlash Explained
How GTA 5 could hurt Rockstar
Recent discussions about Rockstar's commitment to Grand Theft Auto 5 stark contrast to the way Rockstar fans normally think about the studio. Traditionally, longtime fans have only good things to say about Rockstar, praising the consistency and high quality of its core franchises, from grand theft auto to Max Payne. Fan anger over GTA 5's next-gen versions shows a very different side of the community.
Fans are not only upset that Rockstar wants them to play GTA 5 on a third console after eight years, but they are very critical of the improvements Rockstar says the next-gen versions have made. Fans say they see little to no difference between the new version and the PS4, Xbox One and PC generations of GTA5. The last thing Rockstar needs is for these loyal fans to develop doubts after all these years.
Unfortunately, the doubts seem to already be there, and they're here to stay until Grand Theft Auto 6 actually releases. Rockstar's problem is specifically exacerbated because GTA 6 is the only real defense against these fan frustrations, and yet there is no concrete explanation as to why GTA 6 has yet to see the light of day.
The red dead series finally got the excellent Red Dead Redemption 2 after an eight-year hiatus, but Rockstar discussed the RDR prequel long before its 2018 release. Red Dead Redemption 2's development cycle suggests that Rockstar absolutely could have unveiled Grand Theft Auto 6 by now. Instead, eight years passed with no sign of GTA6, and fans are getting tired of waiting.
Rockstar needs to make a move
There's no going back to the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of GTA5, of course. This is the way Rockstar has chosen to buy time GTA6, and it needs to commit. This does not seem likely GTA 6 will be announced before the release of these next-gen versions, as this would be a major distraction that could lead fans to save money GTA 6 instead of buying the next generation GTA5. Based on the current release windows, fans could spend at least the better part of a year waiting for news to come out. In other words, the GTA 5 delay suggests that GTA 6's development is going slowly, if it's even really in the works at all.
At this point, Rockstar is ideally aware of what fans really want. Grand Theft Auto 6 could have the power to completely reset any damage done to Rockstar's reputation by constant re-release GTA5. Bethesda fans may remember the wave of relief that went through the community when the studio announced this The Elder Scrolls 6, assuring them that Elder Scrolls would not be an endless series of Skyrim re-releases. GTA fans still love it GTA; they just want something new. As long as Rockstar delivers GTA 6 Sooner rather than later, the studio should be able to regain its reputation with ease.
Grand Theft Auto 5 Is available now for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions will be released in March 2022.