Grand Theft Auto is one of the most popular, well known and acclaimed game franchises out there, with a history reaching all the way back to 1997 and several games spread across eras, locations, platforms and gameplay styles. Even so, it's no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of current GTA fans have probably only played GTA 5.
GTA 5 is a force like no other, consistently selling more and more copies as the years go on. Soon, it will get native ports on the Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5, bringing it to its third console generation. Alongside the PC version, this means the game will have been remastered three times. Last month, an earnings report stated that the game shipped 140 Million physical copies, and who can tell how many more millions were sold digitally.
Suffice it to say, GTA 5 and Online are wildly popular. Mainstream titles with player bases this large can easily keep growing due to a snowball effect, and being spread across three console generations means GTA 5 has reached - and will reach - an insanely broad audience. However among all this attention being heaped on the latest title, what of the classics?
Take-Two Interactive's CEO, Strauss Zelnick, spoke about the company approach to remasters and briefly touched on the topic of GTA 6 with a noncommittal answer at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference earlier this week. When asked whether remasters will have a bigger role to play in the company strategy moving forward, he had this to say:
I’m not sure there’ll be a bigger part of the strategy. Remastering has always been a part of the strategy. We’ve done differently than the competition – we don’t just port titles over, we actually take the time to do the very best job we can making the title different for the new release, for the new technology that we’re launching it on.
We know that executives aren't the ones who make the actual game announcements and need to navigate these sort of questions carefully, responding to them without giving an answer, but this is essentially just describing the difference between remasters and rereleases. Incidentally, Rockstar has simply just ported over some GTA games to mobile platforms.
One might argue how accurate this assessment is regarding Take-Two's remasters, but Zelnick goes on to bring up two examples - the aforementioned GTA 5, which is a surprising example of a not particularly old game getting remastered multiple times. The other is the recently released remastered bundle of Mafia and Mafia 2.
The point about the huge GTA 5 demographic that hasn't experienced any other game is an interesting one. While we feel that graphical fidelity is of little consequence next to aesthetics, gameplay and narrative, many players - especially casual enjoyers of video games - place a great deal of emphasis on graphics. Re-releasing classics like San Andreas of Vice City with a new coat of paint will give a lot of these newer fans reason to dip deeper in the GTA franchise.
I’m kind of inclined to leave it more as a statement than a question and any update on our release schedule will come from Rockstar Games
It would have been pretty out of turn to announce classic remasters like this, so we're not particularly surprised. When asked about the unannounced but definitely happening GTA 6 (or whatever its name will be), Zelnick gave essentially the same answer - if there is any announcing to be made, Rockstar will take care of it.
In an interesting parallel, recent major GTA 6 leaks that named Vice City as the location for the title also spoke about a possible remaster for a GTA title to be launched sooner.