Earlier this year Rockstar Games finally confirmed one of the worst-kept rumors in the video games industry, saying that it is indeed working on a new version of its hugely popular Grand Theft Auto franchise.
The announcement last February kicked off a whole bunch of rumors about what to expect from GTA 6, and many seem to have been confirmed by a massive leak of in-development video footage from the game in September.
GTA 6 is highly anticipated because its predecessor GTA 5 was one of the most successful video games of all time, selling almost 110 million copies globally, generating Rockstar Games almost $8 billion in revenue since launching in 2013. The sequel is long overdue and is definitely on the way, but apart from admitting that it is in development, Rockstar has kept its cards close to its chest.
For fans eagerly awaiting GTA 6’s launch, the rumors and leaks do at least give us a good idea of what we can expect. Players will likely be able to choose from multiple protagonists – including the franchise’s first playable female character – and at least part of the game is likely to take place in Vice City, a fictional city that provided the setting for the 2002 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
What Did The Leaked GTA 6 Footage Show?
Though Rockstar moved quickly to try and get the dumped footage scrubbed from the internet, there’s plenty of it that’s still floating around on forums and video-hosting websites. From the leaks, it’s clear that GTA 6 is still very much under development, so everything we’ve seen should be taken with a grain of salt. Much of the footage might be related to features, characters and locations that are still being tested, meaning they may not make it into the end product.
With that disclaimer out of the way, it seems clear that GTA 6 will indeed have two playable characters, known as “Jason” and “Lucia”, who appear to be inspired by the legendary criminal outlaw couple Bonnie and Clyde.
Where Will GTA 6 Be Set?
The leaked videos included footage of a railcar with the label “Vice City Metro”, which apparently confirms the long-running rumors that GTA 6 will return to the fictional city in the Sunshine State.
It’s believed that Rockstar originally had much bigger and bolder ambitions for the game to span multiple locations, with settings across both North and South America. However, it’s now thought that Rockstar has scaled back those plans to focus on Vice City and its immediate surroundings, though there will still be acres and acres of non-urban area to explore. A report from Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier in July promised that “the game’s world remains large, with more interior locations than previous Grand Theft Auto games”.
Those who were hoping for a more exotic location won’t be disappointed though, for the Bloomberg report also says the game will be continually updated, with additional locations arriving in future. Apparently, Rockstar simply wants its developers to focus on getting the initial game out of the door without stressing about how to link multiple locations together. Once the game hits the shelves, players can expect a continual flow of updates that will add new cities and missions to the game.
What’s The Story?
There has been no confirmation or even hints of what we can expect in terms of GTA 6’s storyline or game characters, but as mentioned above, players will likely be able to choose between a pair of characters based on Bonnie and Clyde. These rumors were given more weight thanks to the leaked video footage, which shows both male and female protagonists.
As Bloomberg explains, Rockstar has in recent years been attempting to revamp its workplace culture and become a “more progressive company”. In line with this, GTA 6 will have its first female, Latino protagonist, Bloomberg said. The report didn’t mention who the second, male character is, or what their relationship will be.
This appears to confirm earlier reports from leaker Tom Henderson, who has also claimed that GTA 6 will feature multiple playable characters. He said the female character, apparently called Lucia, will be the smarter of the two, with expertise in technology and hacking.
“The woman, who is Latina, will be one of a pair of leading characters in a story influenced by the bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde,” Bloomberg’s report said.
As for the actual storyline, there have been several rumors. One of the most interesting comes from a YouTube channel called The Know, and a now-deleted Reddit post, which say the story will be focused on drug-running, taking inspiration from hit shows such as Netflix’s Narcos. The Reddit post said the story would be told through multiple chapters and take place over several years, with the game visuals reflecting the progress of time. We cannot be sure how valid these claims are though, as the same post also claimed the game would have a single protagonist, contradicting the more recent rumors.
What Else Might We Expect?
The rumor mill has been pumping non-stop since Rockstar first confirmed the game is in the works, with many suggesting that GTA 6 will be the first in the franchise to take place in modern times. The leaked footage apparently confirms this, with at least one pedestrian spotted wielding a smartphone – that said, don’t forget that the storyline may well take place over several years, meaning the story could begin before the smartphone age.
In terms of gameplay, one rumor that’s likely to be true is that the game will have much more intelligent non-playable characters (NPCs). This is backed by a patent filed by GTA publisher Take-Two in October 2020, which relates to “improved AI” for NPCs.
In particular, the patent suggests NPCs that will be able to better react with their environments, creating a more “realistic virtual world that is not limited by hardware and software limitations.”
This could mean, for instance, various different driver profiles in the game. That would enable NPCs to display more realistic and natural behavior, such as adhering to speed limits, recognizing traffic lights and parked cars and stopping for them, or perhaps speeding off in panic if they see the protagonist discharging a firearm. At the same time, we can expect NPCs to display better driving skills, creating a more realistic experience.
It has been suggested by the leaker Henderson that GTA 6 may also be the last-ever game in the Grand Theft Auto franchise. This is still speculation, but also quite logical. With Rockstar’s apparent plans for a continually evolving map, it may not have any reason to follow up with a GTA 7. Rather, it can keep adding maps and characters and stories to the existing game, similar to how most software is continually updated today.
“Rockstar seems to be making GTA 6 the most epic future-proof video game in history, with constant updates that not only give the fans new content but keeps the world new and interesting by evolving,” Henderson said.
One of the wildest rumors doing the rounds is that GTA 6 may also incorporate technologies such as cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), providing a mechanism for players to be rewarded for their efforts with in-game payments.
Last year, Henderson claimed that Rockstar was considering introducing Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency into the game. Bitcoin wouldn’t replace cash as the in-game currency, but rather be used to power a play-to-earn element of the game. He also mentioned that the stock market seen in GTA 5 would return to GTA 6, only it will include a broker for various cryptocurrencies.
According to Henderson, players may be able to earn cryptocurrency rewards for each mission they complete. Crypto may also be integrated into the storyline itself, with some characters the protagonists meet asking them to move large amounts of “untraceable cash” to launder the proceeds of crime.
Other rumors suggest NFT-based characters, clothing and weapons may also feature in GTA 6. In turn, this would power a marketplace where players can buy different outfits and weapons, or sell them to other players and derive an income from playing the game.
Incorporating Web3 functionality into the game would be a major challenge for Rockstar. One of the most difficult choices would be around which blockchain to use? The obvious choice would surely be Ethereum, which already hosts hundreds of P2E games, but that could be a mistake if it’s unable to fix its problems around network congestion and expensive transaction fees.
Luckily there are solutions that can help Rockstar. Flare’s innovative Flare Time Series Oracle is a decentralized smart contract on the Flare Network that’s able to provide continuous estimations for cryptocurrency price pairs via independent data providers that retrieve this information from external sources. The data providers supply information on price pairs in order to earn rewards, before the prices are published on-chain.
In this way, the choice of which blockchain to launch GTA 6 on wouldn’t matter so much. Rockstar will be able to use whichever chain it deems to be most appropriate (one that’s super-fast and cheap), and then use Flare’s FTSO to bring any kind of crypto asset onto its blockchain. This would enable users to easily trade their GTA coins for wrapped Bitcoin or Ethereum, for example, and then sell these for real world currency.
That said, although it’s certainly possible for GTA 6 to incorporate crypto and NFTs, it’s far from clear that Rockstart will decide to go down this route, as the concept has proven to be extremely unpopular with many traditional gamers.
When Will It Launch?
The most important question of all is when we can expect to find out the answers to these questions. Rockstar has not yet provided an official release date, but there is plenty of evidence to back up speculation that we could be looking at 2024 or 2025.
When GTA publisher Take-Two announced it was acquiring the mobile gaming company Zynga in 2021, it issued a press release that stated: “looking ahead, the combined company is expected to deliver a 14% compound annual growth rate… over the three-year period from Take-Two’s Fiscal Years 2021 through 2024.”
A report from Axios noticed this statement and said that there are only a handful of titles within Take-Two’s portfolio that could support such strong guidance. It added that it strongly believes there will be at least one Rockstar IP – likely GTA 6 – that will launch in 2024 in order to drive such strong sales.
Henderson has also posted similar claims, saying that he expects GTA 6 to launch in 2024 or 2025. Bloomberg’s Schreier corroborated this, saying “everything Tom Henderson has said about the game matches up with what I’ve heard.”