Grand Theft Auto V was released on PlayStation 3 not long before the PlayStation 4 was hit the market in 2013. In 2015 when the game was re-released, it seemed more than justifiable given its updates to graphics and the addition of a first-person mode. However, today we learned that, in 2021, eight years after its initial release, the game will release on the PlayStation 5.
While we can’t be sure just how much this version will expand on the original, it is clear from the trailer that little content relating to the main characters was new. Much of the trailer was dedicated to the ever-more-whimsical GTA Online. The stream even ended this section by mentioning owners of the PS4 version would gain quite a bit of in-game cash in the time up to the launch of this re-release.
It seems to me that Rockstar is quite content milking this cash cow for as long as possible. They’ve built an immensely popular game that creates residual revenue from online purchases and they’re reveling in this process. GTA IV didn’t have nearly the same success in that department. Even with that, it took more than five years for the release of the sequel. In this case, GTA V is about to hit its eighth anniversary without as much as a whisper of the next chapter being in development.
We’ve all seen Bethesda do the same re-releasing of numerous versions of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on various platforms six years after launch even as people sought the release of Elder Scrolls VI. That future sequel is still as mysterious as it was when they released the title-only trailer years ago. Rockstar has no financial reason to build a new game when they can rake in profit rehashing the same game with only modified content.
As a fan of this series from its beginnings, it’s disappointing, at the very least, to see this as the way forward for the series. The online portion of GTA games has never been the allure of the titles for me. Even with GTA V, I only bothered with it a few hours compared to the dozens I played solo. I’ve loved the series for its unique worlds, interesting writing and scenarios, and often cathartic gameplay. Grinding away earning money online doesn’t build on any of those strengths.
The fact remains, however, that we don’t know whether Rockstar is making another Grand Theft Auto game. It’s safe to assume they are, but we also don’t know if it’s coming anytime soon. All we know is that they’ve spent developer time and money on making this “expanded and enhanced” version when much of their fan base was looking for a new experience. It’s hard to imagine this will go over very well, but then again there are still hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people playing GTA V online even at the time of writing. They’re probably happy to be milked for a few more years.