As an apparent part of cleaning up its image, Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto VI will feature a female co-star and socially sensitive humor, but draws mixed reactions from fans.
The Grand Theft Auto series has been in a virtual limbo since the last big standalone game, GTA V. As that game was released in 2013, it is approaching 10 years that Rockstar Games released a full-fledged entry (GTA Online notwithstanding). This situation was exacerbated with the reveal that the games developer and publisher had been imposing harsh working situations, including unfair overtime practices.
That may soon change with the currently in-development GTA 6. However, a news report confirming a playable female lead character, a more socially sensitive approach to the humor, and a staggered release for content has led GTA fans to mixed reactions.
In a report published by Bloomberg, Grand Theft Auto VI will have a female protagonist as one part of a duo:
The game will feature a playable female protagonist for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter. The woman is Latina and will be one of a pair of leading characters in a story influenced by the bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde.
It should be noted that the report does not specify if the other member of this duo will be playable or identify as male. The gender identity of the co-lead had not been confirmed in Bloomberg’s report.
The report goes on to claim that the developers of Grand Theft Auto 6 will be reducing the racial and social insensitivity against marginalized groups. There will be less humor and fewer jokes that directly target these groups.
The report on GTA 6 also mentions that the possible release date of the game may be a couple of years still:
Industry analysts anticipate that the next Grand Theft Auto will be out sometime in Take-Two’s 2024 fiscal year, which runs from April 2023 through March 2024, but developers are skeptical. The game has been in development in some form since 2014.
Bloomberg states that the insiders interviewed could not provide a clear estimate of the game's release date.
The report also provides some insight to the developing world of GTA 6, which will be a fictionalized version of Miami, Florida (similar to Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was previously debunked):
The game’s new map is now focused on a fictional version of Miami and its surrounding areas. Rockstar’s plan is to continually update the game over time, adding new missions and cities on a regular basis, which leadership hopes will lead to less crunch during the game’s final months. Still, the game’s world remains large, with more interior locations than previous Grand Theft Auto games, affecting the timeline.
Initial rumors suggested GTA 6 would feature much larger maps. With this news, the ambition has apparently been scaled down, although with more content in interiors of buildings. This latter developmental approach may be part of Rockstar Games' attempt at changing the course. After its controversies with employees publicly denouncing the unfair working conditions and pressure, a staggered release of content is a logical business decision.
With that said, this may also open up new concerns, as regular small updates can lead to multiple deadlines in smaller time crunches. As a form of live service, this may also dissatisfy fans who are already jaded with games that are technically incomplete at launch.
GTA fans react
While the high profile report of the status for Grand Theft Auto 6 and its development had its supporters, the response is apparently not unanimous.
On social media channels such as Twitter, fans are divided with the revelation that GTA 6 will feature a female protagonist, as well as possible toning down of the insensitivity that is a hallmark of the criminal underworld in the GTA franchise:
Rockstar Games has spent the last four years overhauling its culture and working to become a kinder, more progressive company. But what does that actually look like? And what does it mean for the company's next game, Grand Theft Auto VI? My latest feature: https://t.co/8VlTh63uNm
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) July 27, 2022
I read the whole article and nothing got confirmed anywhere.
Female protagonist sounds cool. If they do 3 characters again give them unique gameplay loops.
As far as cultural sensitivity goes if rdr2 is anything to go by. GTA 6 should still be raunchy as hell. https://t.co/v491nsD9YD
— Mutahar (@OrdinaryGamers) July 27, 2022
— Nick (@GhillieYT) July 27, 2022
GTA: *has black, hispanic, and asian protagonists.*
GTA 6: *has a male & female protagonist.*
twitter: "shit, they made it woke now..." pic.twitter.com/OG8VhkdrYf
— JOLLY J✨ (@DynamoSuperX) July 27, 2022
Can someone explain to me why. GTA 6 will have a playable female and ppl react like this???? I don't understand what this means 😭🤣 pic.twitter.com/bYsGh2mAeU
— Pyo 5️⃣ (@mrpyo1) July 27, 2022
GTA 6 cutscene where the PoC lady protagonist talks to the other player character about how she uses violence to escape the trauma inflicted on her by an unfair world while they're eating at a restaurant called Dairy Queef
— lauren (@NotABigJerk) July 27, 2022
It should be noted that the Bloomberg report is not claiming 100% accuracy, although the author Jason Schreier is a consistently prominent source in the games industry. Thus, there may be a small likelihood that the information provided in the report is not painting a complete picture.
Fans of the GTA franchise may be divided with the news that a female lead and socially aware content awaits in the future, the information that Rockstar Games is cleaning up its act is a welcome one. The steps taken toward a kinder, more employee-centric environment in the Rockstar offices beginning with the hiring of more staff and recent reduction of work pressure, is generally looked upon as positive news.