Rockstar Games has their hands full right now. Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming out tomorrow (and it’s excellent.) GTAV’s online component is still enormously popular and Red Dead Redemption Online is set to launch in a few weeks. Needless to say, the question on everyone’s mind is “what’s next?” and the logical answer is GTA6. Or it would be if the world itself didn’t feel like a parody right now.
Dan Houser, co-founder of the studio, has gone on record with GQ UK that GTA6 won’t be happening until the political climate settles down.
“It’s really unclear what we would even do with it, let alone how upset people would get with whatever we did. 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 satirize 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 It would be out of date within two minutes, everything is changing so fast.”
Houser’s stance makes perfect sense. Grand Theft Auto, as a series, has poked fun at American culture for decades, using Americana as fodder for both plot and set dressing in the games. That formula, which has made the series a heavyweight best-seller, simply will not work given the current state of the world.
As the US descends into deeper polarization, consider the tongue-in-cheek commentary littered through all of the game’s current iteration of San Andreas, where billboards proclaim “Global Warming Is Baloney” and in-game social media talks about affordable healthcare and corrupt politicans. What were once pointed social jokes during GTAV's development are now hot-button topics that warrant actual debate.
Rockstar is no stranger to pushing the envelope or being the target of public outrage. Hell, their bread and butter is making games where cops are cannon fodder and soliciting prostitutes or beating people to death with a purple dildo are bonus features.
Not being able to make the next Grand Theft Auto feel like satire poses a much bigger problem and, from what Houser has said, it’s a problem that they’ll simply sidestep by delaying the highly-anticipated game until the world gets its shit together. It could be a while.