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 It would be out of date within two minutes, everything is changing so fast."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 gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

Why make it current and topical if that is the issue then? Set it in a different era to today's political mess: 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, it's all there for the taking. All this statement really says to me is "We are keeping GTA Online going for as long as we possibly can. Sod the single players out there."

Avatar image for James_xeno
James_xeno

@gotrekfabian:

So much this! Or even the future.

Avatar image for good_coop89
Good_Coop89

@gotrekfabian: I don't know, I always get the impression the Houser brothers are only really interested in single-player narrative stuff, since their games are sort of like an adaptation of films they've enjoyed. The online/multi-player is done just out of necessity / the guarantee of constant revenue, at least that's the impression I always get anyway.

Avatar image for jjenslyn
Jjenslyn

@good_coop89: are you trolling?

Avatar image for good_coop89
Good_Coop89

@jjenslyn: Huh? No, it's my honest to god opinion. I doubt they're interested in multiplayer themselves, but they're certainly interested in the money it generates. Whereas the whole narrative, and simulated, believable worlds with obsessive attention to detail - they seem to get a genuine kick out of that stuff. That's the point I'm making.

Avatar image for barcaazul
BarcaAzul

@gotrekfabian:

Agree, new vice city it is then.

Avatar image for hrv_25
hrV_25

@gotrekfabian: thy literally just finished the biggest title they ever created n it's realeasing day after tomorrow. Stop reading shit that ain't there asshat.

Avatar image for gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

@hrv_25: Reading stuff that ain't there? It's in the topic if you READ. And stop with the name calling, it shows your level of mentality.

Avatar image for hrv_25
hrV_25

@gotrekfabian: talking about the last line you said. RDR2 will have a online mode just like GTA online even bigger and better. How is that milking GTA online?

Avatar image for gotrekfabian
gotrekfabian

@hrv_25: It's an entirely different universe which doesn't appeal to everyone. I doubt we'll see any game be able to replicate GTAV's online mode's success for a long time to come. Sure, people will be playing Red Dead Online but I can't see it holding people's interest for over 5 years.

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@gotrekfabian: This is a possible solution. Would love a 50's madmen era GTA game.

Avatar image for revanxknight
RevanxKnight

@gotrekfabian: I agree, there are plenty of era’s outside of the present day to choose from. I’d personally love to visit Tommy Vercetti again.

Avatar image for James_xeno
James_xeno

@revanxknight:

OMG yes! Or even another game set in VC around the same era of the first.

Avatar image for revanxknight
RevanxKnight

@James_xeno: Absolutely. It would be awesome just to see Vice City again.

Avatar image for 93ChevyNut
93ChevyNut

LET GO OF THE 100 HOUR WORK WEEK STORY! I came here to read about GTA 6 in today's political climate and literally half of the article is about the 100 hour work week "controversy". GS, quit trying to drum up drama.

Avatar image for goldero
goldero

@93ChevyNut: Agreed. The way the story is pushed you'd think the programmers were chained to their desks.

Avatar image for 93ChevyNut
93ChevyNut

@goldero: I know! I hate to break it to GS, but there's a lot of industries where "crunch" happens, and it ain't just software. Ask anyone in contract engineering (those that design bridges, roads, or buildings) and you'll hear about 100 hour work weeks. Likewise in old industries such the railroad. My dad, as a director, worked from 3:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. six days a week and sometimes on Sunday because that's what the job required. And he did that for months at a time.

Avatar image for James_xeno
James_xeno

@93ChevyNut:

Agreed.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1
lionheartssj1

Just do what you've always done. They've done pretty good satire of culture as a whole since they've moved to 3D. No matter what you do, someone is always going to be offended or displeased. The only difference now, is that outrage has become a very profitable cottage industry.

Avatar image for zmanbarzel
ZmanBarzel

@lionheartssj1: He's not saying that he's worried about people being offended. He's just pointing out that in modern America, satire and reality are virtually indistinguishable. It's tough enough to do satire on a late-night talk show, where you don't need to worry about it having a long shelf life. Creating it for a video game years in advance, with the aim of having it remain fresh/topical for years after that? Pretty much impossible.

Avatar image for lionheartssj1
lionheartssj1

@zmanbarzel: True, but they've been pretty good with satirizing cultural ideals or concepts that aren't necessarily dated. GTA V did a pretty good job poking at modern tech usage and related ideologies. While that's obviously a shift to a modern paradigm, the satire was tied more to the human response moreso than any specific events that have occurred. However, the response to certain occurrences now change wildly depending on the day of the week so you do make a good point and one that would make their new online model very difficult. I haven't kept up with GTA Online so I don't know how they've handled any new narratives. Someone else mentioned in the comments going back in time for the setting, so that may be their best option now.