Well, folks, it’s finally almost time. It’s been over ten years since Grand Theft Auto 5 first released, and it’s turned out to have a much, much longer life than any of us could have anticipated back then. Grand Theft Auto Online obviously turned out to be an absolute juggernaut for Rockstar Games, and consistent support for the online open world experience has resulted in mind-boggling sales for GTA 5, which currently stands at over 190 million units shipped worldwide. Given that astounding success, Rockstar has obviously had absolutely no issues with just keeping the 2013 title around, holding off on developing not only a new instalment in the series, but even new single player content for GTA 5 itself.
But now, over a decade on from the last Grand Theft Auto game’s release, Rockstar is finally ready to unveil the series’ next instalment, having recently confirmed that the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 will debut sometime in early December. There are, of course, lots of questions to be asked even before then- will the game be announced at The Game Awards on December 7, or will Rockstar drop the trailer on its own terms? Will the debut trailer be a meaty gameplay showing, or will Rockstar stick to its traditional modus operandi and show us as little of the game as possible before its release? And, the question that we’re focused on here right now, and the question that will doubtless be on everyone’s mind- when will the game actually launch?
Rockstar is, of course, a developer that likes to take its time with its games, which means in recent years, development cycles for its games have been longer than what you see for most studios on average (which is saying something, because development cycles have been getting longer for the entire industry at large, to the point where many are beginning to wonder whether the current model is even sustainable). How long GTA 6 has been in active development is something that we can only speculate on, but given the fact that Rockstar’s last major title, Red Dead Redemption 2, launches in late 2018, one would presume that the studio had fully shifted focus to its next big project (i.e. GTA 6) at some point in 2019.
So does that mean that after five years of active development (at least in its current for), Grand Theft Auto 6 will be ready to release sometime next year? If reports are to be believed, that might certainly be the case. In July of last year, a report published by Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier claimed that, at the time, members of the open world title’s development team believed that a release date was at least two years away, which would point to a launch sometime in 2024. Meanwhile, back in 2020, Schreier also claimed in a report published on Kotaku that with Rockstar looking to cut back on its culture of crunch in the wake of Red Dead Redemption 2’s launch, it had decided to develop Grand Theft Auto 6 as a “moderately sized” game (or moderately sized by its standards, at least), with the intention of expanding it with new single player content following its release. So if GTA 6 has indeed been scoped as a relatively less gargantuan project, could we perhaps assume that a 2024 release might actually be likely?
On top of that, earlier this year, Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive also confirmed that it was projecting record-high net bookings of $8 billion for fiscal year 2024/25 (which runs from April 2024 to March 2025). That’s a significantly higher figure than the net bookings Take-Two Interactive traditionally sees in a typical fiscal year, with CEO Strauss Zelnick stating that the company expects the period to be “a significant inflection point” for itself. Naturally, many have taken his words to mean that Grand Theft Auto 6 will launch at some point during FY 24/25, and honestly, it’s easy to see why. What game other than GTA 6 could drive the company to such record revenue and profits?
But of course, just because Take-Two and Rockstar are planning on releasing the game before April 2025 doesn’t mean it will actually happen. As we’ve learned on countless occasions over the years, in the games industry, you can (and should) never entirely rule out delays. Even if we assume that a 2024 release is confirmed by Rockstar when it debuts GTA 6’s trailer next month, who will be unequivocally confident that the game won’t be hit with a delay in the coming months? After all, this is the next Grand Theft Auto game- there can be no doubt that Rockstar will be pouring everything it has into this project as it looks to deliver the most impressive and thoroughly detailed game it has ever made. So is there a chance that, in pursuit of that goal, the company decides to delay the game past its originally intended launch date? If that does happen, it’s likely that we could be looking at a release sometime later in 2025.
In fact, Rockstar’s marketing cycles for its major releases over the past decades would certainly suggest that Grand Theft Auto 6 will launch in the later months of 2025. GTA 5 was first officially announced in October 2011, nearly a full two years before its September 2013 release. Red Dead Redemption 2, meanwhile, launched in October 2018, two years on from its official announcement in October 2016. And both games, incidentally, missed their original release windows- GTA 5 was originally supposed to launch in Q2 of 2013, while Red Dead Redemption 2 was delayed twice, first from the second half of 2017 to the first half of 2018, and then to October that year.
So what does that suggest for Grand Theft Auto 6’s release timing? Obviously, history doesn’t have to repeat itself, but if it does, that would mean that we won’t be playing the next GTA game until we’re well into 2025 (and we might even have to endure the heartbreak of a delay along the way). Of course, there’s also the chance that Rockstar doesn’t announce a release date or window for the game with its first trailer at all, and instead chooses to make that announcement only when it’s confident that the game is close to being done. That’s not something that the company has been known to do in the past, but it’s something we’ve been seeing from studios with greater frequency in recent years, so it’s not completely out of the question.
Either way, one thing that we can all take to the bank is the fact that we’re definitely in the endgame now. Grand Theft Auto 5 has had an excellent run – the kind of run that we’re probably never going to see from a game ever game (with the exception of GTA 6, maybe) – and even though it’s obviously not going instantly die out once its successor launches, its days of being the last major instalment in the franchise are numbered. Our hope, at this point, is that when Rockstar unveils Grand Theft Auto 6 next month, it does so with a release date that’s not too far away- and actually manages to stick to it.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.