Publicly confirmed by Rockstar Games, the development of Grand Theft Auto 6 drags on more than reason. While making some revelations about the content of the game, Jason Schreier’s article looks more generally at how Rockstar Games has managed to update certain aspects of its internal culture and the repercussions that certain social phenomena may have had on the production of the next GTA. No pressure, we’re just talking about the successor to the one that has exceeded 165 million in sales since 2013 and continues to fascinate millions of players in its online world, GTA Online.
About GTA 6, therefore, the great revelation of the day is the presence of a woman among the protagonists of the story. A great first that we were desperate to see happen when the campaign of GTA 5 still revolved around a trio of men and had a hard time putting in place memorable female characters. As it happens, GTA 6 would feature a duo inspired by criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the heroine being of Latin American origin. The opportunity to emphasize that the authors of the studio are now careful not to abuse jokes about marginalized groups. A detail that is part of a broader culture change to which we will return a little later.
According to the article, the first works around GTA 6 would have started as early as 2014, but the story does not say from when we can really mark the start of the production of the game. What is certain is that the development is not going as fast as hoped and the sources indicate that it is difficult to envisage a release of the game for at least another two years. Earlier in the year, a group of designers opted out of Rockstar North, lamenting the slow progress.
Originally, GTA 6 was codenamed Project Americas and had the ambition to be vastly bigger than its predecessors. There was talk of including territories modeled on large swathes of North and South America, according to people familiar with the matter. In the end, Rockstar Games positioned itself on a fictional Miami as the main setting for GTA 6which is not necessarily crazy original (Vice City, you know) but should still appeal to a wide audience, especially since this playground would be updated over time.
“Rockstar now intends to update the game continuously, regularly adding new missions and towns, which management hopes will reduce the crunch during the final months of the game. default game remains large, with more indoor locations than previous Grand Theft Auto games, impacting production schedule“, reports Jason Schreier.
Rockstar Games, the evolution of an internal culture since 2018
Despite dragging out production, many Rockstar Games employees feel that morale is better than it has ever been. “Between the new direction of the company and the departure in 2019 of Dan Houser, who handled the creative direction of many previous games, everything suggests that Grand Theft Auto VI will be very different from its predecessor.“, writes Jason Schreier. Example of the impact that the facts of society can have on the state of mind of Rockstar Games, we learn that the studio has canceled a mode of GTA Online appointed Cops ‘n’ Crooks due to the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in mid-2020. This is not the only example of the evolution of the creative process at Rockstar Games, which also eliminated some transphobic banter in the latest port of GTA 5while internally the differences in pay between men and women are now less obvious.
While there is no doubt that the GTA franchise owes much of its colossal success to its legendary irreverence as well as its ability to deal blows to everyone, this drunkenness was also a reflection of Rockstar’s internal culture. Games, made of “drunkenness, fights and trips to strip clubs“, say the employees. Rockstar Games has also been singled out as an obnoxious representative of the crunch intensive that characterizes most major video game studios.
However, since the scandal of 2018 and the “100 hours per week” from creative director Dan Houser, Rockstar Games is looking to reinvent itself as a more progressive and compassionate company. According to one of the testimonials, the boy’s club would thus have turned into a real business. “Can a softer, kinder Rockstar still produce games of the same quality that the studio is known for? Some employees aren’t sure. According to many employees, company morale has never been better. But the development of Grand Theft Auto VI has been slower than expected for impatient fans and even long-time employees.“, reports Jason Schreier.
If the pandemic played a role, the delay seems mainly caused by this desire to change things internally in order to improve working conditions. The article cites in particular the restructuring of the design department, the promotion of self-employed workers to full-time employees, the departure of certain managers accused of abusive behavior and even efforts to better control overtime for 4 years now. Internally, some do not hide their doubts and are still wondering what a GTA will look like bathed in an environment that is afraid of offending the slightest sensitivity. More philosophers, others believe that it is in any case no longer possible to paint a satirical portrait of America as it has already become a parody of itself.
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