It’s another day and another rumor about Grand Theft Auto 6. There’s a famous clip from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in which CJ said, “ah snap, here we go again” before putting himself in harm’s way (we censored that phrase slightly, but we’re sure we know which clip we’re talking about). That’s probably how you feel every time you see another GTA 6 rumor published without any confirmation of a launch date or even any specific details about what the game might look or feel like. We’ve started to feel a little bit like that, too, but we couldn’t let this rumor pass without commenting on it. According to several sources who have a strong track record of getting things right when it comes to Rockstar Games, the lead character in Grand Theft Auto 6 will be a woman. If the story turns out to be true, that would be a first for the massively popular video game franchise.
In this case, the primary ‘leaker’ is Tom Henderson, who’s a well-known name on social media not just because of the Rockstar news he’s got right in the past but also because he’s been trustworthy when it comes to leaking information about Call of Duty games. Nobody knows where Tom gets his information from, but he’s right more often than he’s wrong. If he feels confident enough to say that there will be a female face placed front and center for the next Grand Theft Auto game, it will take a brave person to say he’s wrong. The introduction of a female character wouldn’t necessarily come at the expense of a prominently-featured male character, though. If Tom is correct in what he says, GTA 6 will use a similar setup to GTA 5.
As you’ll already know if you’ve ever owned or played GTA 5 – which we strongly suspect most of you will – the game has not one main character, but three. Depending on what’s needed at different times during the game’s missions – or, alternatively, whenever a player feels like doing so on a whim – control can be switched between Franklin Clinton, Michael Townley, and Trevor Phillips. The idea of having more than one character prominently featured in the narrative isn’t new to Grand Theft Auto games, but there’s never been a female character in such a position. If one were to be included in the sixth incarnation of the game – even if she were to be one of three or four – it would be a step forward in terms of progress and representation. After all, women are just as capable of committing heinous crimes as men are.
As is almost always the case, Rockstar hasn’t commented on this latest batch of rumors, and nor do we expect them to do so. They remain uncommitted to any dates regarding Grand Theft Auto 6, and they won’t speak publicly until they have something to tell us. While they’ve grudgingly accepted that they’re working on the game as we speak, they won’t go any further than that with information. There are even suggestions that there will be a next-gen upgrade made available for Grand Theft Auto 5 before we see Grand Theft Auto 6, which will be an unexpected development if it turns out to be true. Having said that, anyone who’s surprised by the amount of time that Rockstar is sticking with Grand Theft Auto 5 hasn’t been paying attention to how much money the game continues to make, nor how popular it is.
Aside from making Red Dead Redemption 2, which is a stunningly brilliant game, Rockstar has poured almost every hour of every day into finding new ways to keep Grand Theft Auto 5 relevant and interesting. They introduced the Diamond Hotel Resort & Casino in 2019, although that immediately ran into trouble in countries where online slots are banned. Even though players in the Grand Theft Auto world don’t play for real money at the casino, the fact that virtual chips can be bought with real cash apparently makes it too much like online slots for the liking of some authorities, and so Rockstar had to make sudden and unplanned changes. They’re hoping to have more success with a series of exclusive in-game concerts and performances by real-life artists in the same virtual venue, which will begin later this year. The idea that the authorities are happy for their citizens to play a game where they can shoot total strangers dead on the street but aren’t happy for them to play anything that might look or feel like online slots is strange, but that’s the way of the world. The point is that GTA 5 is still an active, ongoing project – and the success of that project has probably delayed GTA 6.
There are two contrasting schools of thought about when GTA 6 might finally arrive. The first is that it will probably turn up within the next two years, and that’s based on the idea that Rockstar appears to be making room for a major release within its schedule. The primary piece of evidence cited by people who think the game is imminent is that the long-awaited sequel to Bully has been canceled yet again, and that’s because Rockstar needed to reassign staff to another project. The decision to cancel Bully 2 won’t have been taken lightly, and so presumably, it would only have been done if the company desperately needed assistance with a project that’s an absolute priority. As it’s far too early for a third Red Dead Redemption game, a sixth Grand Theft Auto game is the most likely explanation.
This optimistic theory is disputed by people who’ve taken the time to look at Take Two’s marketing budget for the next few years. Take Two is the company that owns Rockstar, and they generally spend somewhere between ten and forty million dollars per year on marketing. The exceptions to that rule are years where they have a major new release to promote. As an example, they spent almost ninety million dollars the year Red Dead Redemption 2 was released. According to their most recent SEC filing, the next time they’re scheduled to spend that sort of money is 2023. That suggests Grand Theft Auto 6 will be released that year, and we won’t see it beforehand because the required promotion hasn’t been budgeted for. By that time, Grand Theft Auto 5 will be ten years old, and next-gen console games will have taken another step into the future. The game will almost certainly be showing its age badly, and no amount of fresh paint will be able to help it.
We don’t know when the game is going to arrive, and we don’t know for certain that it will have a female star – but we are slowly starting to put the pieces together. A female star looks likely based on the evidence, and so does a 2023 release date. If Rockstar would like to confirm any of this by way of a statement, we’d love to hear it!