GTA 6 Would Be Tricky To Make In Today's Political Climate, Says Rockstar Co-Founder

"It's really unclear what we would even do with it."

110 Comments
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Dan Houser, co-founder of Rockstar Games and writer of many of the studio's titles, has discussed the idea of making a new Grand Theft Auto in the current political climate. In just a day's time, Rockstar will launch Red Dead Redemption 2, a game that follows Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang as they attempt to survive in a world moving on from the days of wild west outlaws.

While RDR 2 maintains a fairly grounded, almost sombre tone, the Grand Theft Auto series has always been a vessel for biting satire of American culture and history. As such, it was more inclined towards ridiculous characterisations of larger-than-life figures, or exaggerated depictions of elements of modern society that can be torn apart and analysed through the lens of video games.

However, speaking to GQ, Houser indicated that the exaggeration and absurdity at the core of the Grand Theft Auto series' satirical commentary feels like it has manifested in the real world, which means tackling the sixth entry in the GTA series would be tricky.

"It's really unclear what we would even do with it, let alone how upset people would get with whatever we did," said Houser. "Both intense liberal progression and intense conservatism are both very militant, and very angry.

"It is scary but it's also strange, and yet both of them seem occasionally to veer towards the absurd. It's hard to satirise for those reasons. Some of the stuff you see is straightforwardly beyond satire. It would be out of date within two minutes, everything is changing so fast."

Rockstar as a whole has been under the microscope lately. Ahead of the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2, there have been discussions surrounding working hours and crunch at the studio. In a separate interview, Houser mentioned working 100-hour weeks several times in 2018, though it was later clarified that this was only undertaken by members of the senior writing team, including himself.

Naturally, the initial reports of 100-hour work weeks attracted criticism, as the negative impact of crunch is well documented. Rockstar employees were told to speak out about their own experiences, however, and while some noted that they had long work weeks in the past, it was also noted that environment had changed for the better over the years.

The difficulty in the situation was, of course, the perception that overtime could be seen as necessary through studio culture. And to clarify this Rockstar Lincoln, where much of the QA happens, recently held a meeting to tell employees that overtime is not mandatory, though it can occasionally be requested and schedules.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has been a multi-studio development effort from Rockstar and is the studio's biggest game yet. It is set for launch on October 26, and then the online mode is expected to arrive in November. Grand Theft Auto V launched in September 2013 and was re-released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One a year later. A PC version followed in April 2015. The game's online mode has been a huge success for Rockstar and still receives regular updates.

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Avatar image for poseidion
poseidion

First, I find hard to believe they haven't started GTA VI yet. Second, I don't believe their "fears" regarding political issues. Anyway, Rockstar passed from my favorite studio, to the one I most hate, the day I had to accept no story expansion was coming to GTA V. They opted to follow the Saints Row alike ridiculous path, with crappy online updates and a selfish "gimme your money" approach.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@poseidion: i don't find it hard to believe at all. gta v online is generating more than enough revenue for them so there is no reason to invest in gta vi at present time. also, bully 2 has been long rumoured to be their next project, so i would assume that is fairly deep into production.

Avatar image for sippio
sippio

I just watched the whooole recap of RDR1..

And Mexico was just awful..

ALL 3 TIMES I BORED-QUIT..

With each playthmostr rough years apart. & more recently 3 months ago..

**I actually got further this time in Mexico but nope,couldnt finish it..

I fear for RDR2..

***Same mid-late game staleness happens with a lot of Rockstar games..

GTA V,,,GTA IV<esp with Neico(sp) Vice City & San Andreas all used the best parts of the story telling & memorable character in 1st half....

im not a hater but doubt fanboys would/could amit this with feeling a traitor...

Avatar image for goldero
goldero

@sippio: Mexico WAS boring but I powered through so I could see the end of Dutch and John's family. I wasn't disappointed.

Avatar image for nabinator
Nabinator

@sippio: I actually agree, it's a thing. I detested Mexico, and stopped two playthroughs around that mark. I finished GTA4 and 5 but I remember it being a struggle

Avatar image for legendaryh1tman
legendaryh1tman

@sippio: I signed in just to 100% agree with you. I bought GTA 5 and RDR at launch and have them now on Xbox One X which by the way RDR looks amazing in 4k, but I haven't beat either campaigns. Just gets far too boring, it almost feels like a chore to chug through it. Not even a Far Cry game feels this boring. On the fence if I will buy this at launch.

Avatar image for kaigevandall
Kaigevandall

Maybe they need to learn how to write comedy without relying almost entirely on sexist jokes against women.

Avatar image for James_xeno
James_xeno

@kaigevandall:

What have you been playing? Or is it that your tinfoil hat just got in the way of you actually paying attention? The GTA series makes fun of EVERYONE.. hell, if anything, female characters get off easy in that respect.. In fact, i'm really not even sure what you're even misconstruing in the first place.. These games make jokes about everything.. Deal with it or don't play.. simple as that.

Also.. A joke about a female character =/= a sexist joke... despite what some ideologues and nutjobs like to think.

This is the exact type of thing he was talking about! smh

Avatar image for Dragerdeifrit
Dragerdeifrit

@kaigevandall: rockstar games have always made fun of everyone, not just women, you'r wrong.

Avatar image for kaigevandall
Kaigevandall

@Dragerdeifrit:
I know they make fun of everyone. The problem is (for GTA5 at least) how 90% of the humor is about women being ugly/stupid/sl***/etc.

Avatar image for goldero
goldero

@kaigevandall: Quantify that. 90%, let's see it. I recently played through the story mode again, and No, the majority of the humor isn't based on degrading women. More likely you just heard the jokes that bothered you and focused on them, amplifying them in your own mind.

Avatar image for kaigevandall
Kaigevandall

@goldero:
I don't agree with you. The sexism was rampant in that game. Listen to the commercials on the radio, read the billboards, read the signs, think about the dialogue of the main characters, even the NPCs. There's a point when something stops being satire and just seems cruel and unbalanced. A company as big as Rockstar can afford to do better. This article seems like they are acknowledging that, somewhat.

Also, there are reviews of this game that brought this up during launch. From reviewers who gave the game high marks, by the way, but found the amount of humor geared towards women to be distasteful. There are so many things the games does right, but it's important to focus on what the game does wrong, too, like the humor (which wasn't really that interesting or funny in the first place). That's what needs to happen if we, as consumers, want the series to get better. Sorry, but there is nothing clever about writing jokes involving peeing on women and using them as toilets. It's been done before. And it's just gross.

Avatar image for Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@kaigevandall: good point.

Avatar image for xxmavr1kxx
xxmavr1kxx

Lets go way into the future.

Grand theft hover board.

Avatar image for Atzenkiller
Atzenkiller

@xxmavr1kxx: Actually going into the future might be their only option now, since they don't want to set them in the past anymore and the last 2 games were set in the present. Which many people like, judging by the sales numbers, but I found GTA5 pretty boring because of it. If Cyberpunk becomes a big success, which I don't doubt, then that might convince them to pick a future setting as well for GTA6.

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

biting satire is exactly what we need now. Rockstar has never shied away from the flak they take over GTA, why now?

Maybe it is just a convenient excuse not to be working on a new one as GTA V keeps hauling in the money, why compete against yourself?

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@sdzald: I could've sworn the director from GTA 5 quit working at Rockstar after making GTA all the way up to 5. Maybe he had the balls and the person who took his place didn't? Possibility.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@sdzald: I think what's closer to the truth is, how do you satire a world that's become satire.

Avatar image for James_xeno
James_xeno

@Bread_or_Decide:

Sadly, i read it as more of a nice way (excuse) of saying that they fear the backlash of saying or joking.... well... about ANYTHING at all.. As everything is suddenly "too real" for some today. Probably also has something to do with holding off as long as they can to further milk GTA Online. -_-'

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

@Bread_or_Decide:

I really don't buy that. Being an OLD geezer I can tell you that our political and cultural 'unrest' today is no worse then it has been, maybe different but not worse.

I really do think it comes down to "Why risk killing your golden goose if you don't have to." Until the amount of money being brought in by GTA V starts to drop off, we will not see a new GTA.

Avatar image for Atzenkiller
Atzenkiller

@sdzald: Really? You wanna tell me that things have ever been as bad as now, where anyone not only can but feels like they have to share their opinion on anything online? And has to try and convince everyone else that their opinion is the right one and everyone has to accept it. This kind of entitlement wasn't as big an issue because the technology wasn't there. But now people can and do make a huge deal out of anything, so you can't even make a harmless joke without causing a massive outcry.

I understand why they don't wanna do this anymore. The reality has become like the caricatures they used to create, so what are you even gonna make fun of anymore?

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@sdzald: This is also true. I think there's no rush for many reasons. Much like Skyrim, why rush when you're making tons of cash for years and years.

Avatar image for barcaazul
BarcaAzul

@Bread_or_Decide:

Life imitating art! Or in this case GTA worlds.

I like to think they have been working on a new one. Sure online is doing w well, but it has a shelf life still

Avatar image for clay544888
clay544888

@barcaazul: I think you have it backwards. I thought it was supposed to be art imitating life!

Avatar image for barcaazul
BarcaAzul

@clay544888:

Correct, that's the irony. That's why Houser is saying how do you make satire of the real world, when the real world is satirical anyway.

Avatar image for sdzald
sdzald

@barcaazul:

Yep I agree with that, and I think we are seeing for the first time since GTA V was released a dip in game sales. However with RD2 coming out I doubt they will start up a new project before summer of next year, which means I think it won't be tell 2021 at the earliest that we see a new GTA. I could be all wrong but that is my best guess.

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hrV_25

@sdzald: m guessing we will hear about new GTA or the next rockstar title in next after the next gen console release.

Avatar image for barcaazul
BarcaAzul

@sdzald:

I think GTA V was in development for some time, about 3 years or so.

I doubt you will hear anything but, RDR2 for the next six months or so.

I think a lot will depend on RDRO and GTAO and how will they both do. I recently jumped back into GTAO and I've been quite impressed. At launch it was boring and a mess though.

Avatar image for good_coop89
Good_Coop89

@Bread_or_Decide: This.

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MasterFrankGrimes

This is Rockstar finally caving to liberal demand.

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pavelbure

I’d love to see them take some of the work they did in LA Noire and put a GTA in that time period.

Avatar image for Blade_Runner_07
Blade_Runner_07

It represents the worst part of ourselves which should be easy to identify and parody in today's political climate.

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videogameninja

Comments section is going to be a minefield, lol.

-POPCORN MEME NINJA APPROVED-

Avatar image for elron6
elron6

It's been always been like this, I swear it's like some people just woke up or maybe they just started paying attention. This has always been a divided country all the back to Jefferson and Adams. What's lacking is some semblance of decorum. It's like, yes you have the right to lampoon and make fun of people, but they also have the right to be upset. Thats where I believe people get Political Correctioness wrong. You do have a right to say the most offensive things, but people also have a right to speak back. It's not a one way street. So make your game, make it as offensive as you want and have the fortitude to stand by it. Trump is a monster, but at least he stands by the horrible stuff he says.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@elron6: Problem is online mob justice now ruins lives, jobs, careers, and products.

Avatar image for Blade_Runner_07
Blade_Runner_07

@elron6: But usually we didn't have a level of access to information that would allow to know the presidential candidates are bad people. Nor have we had the ability to communicate to the masses ore definition of right and wrong. The absence of ignorance and the abundance of arrogance is the biggest difference. Things have changed.

Avatar image for good_coop89
Good_Coop89

@Blade_Runner_07: Your penultimate sentence is magnificent.

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mpl911

@Blade_Runner_07: Beautifully put.

+1