It's complete bollocks. It basically just boils down to "Its all the same universe we just pick and choose who we want to bring back and not bring back."
The whole "universe" nonsense was just dreamt up in an attempt to explain why the cities look so different.
As far as I'm concerned, it's all the same universe.
It's not "bollocks" at all. It's a straight forward creative descision, enabling the creators to disregard as much or as little of the narritive canon as they wish. I honestly don't undertstand how some people having so much trouble grasping & accepting this.
I mean, you can imagine it as all being in the same universe if you want, just as one could regard Tim Burton & Joel Schumacher's Batman films as being part of the same universe as Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy. But that doesn't mean it makes any sense, nor is it part of the creators intent.
That would make sense if it were different people making the games. But its still Dan and Sam Houser writing these things.
What doesn't make sense is how Donald Love is mentioned in the Liberty Tree in gta4 if it's supposed to be a separate universe
What doesn't make sense is how lazlow and fernando are still there of its "separate universes"
The whole "separate universes" thing is just to shut up the fanboys who would incessantly echo "Bring back tommy! Bring back CJ!" because R* want to move on,
As far as creator intent, Dan Houser even specifically said "Packie is not going to be in gta5" so their word is to be taken with grain of salt.
I can accept that CJ and Franklin are from the same city, and that the city just looks different for artistic reasons and leave it at that. Time passes and people change, the same guys banging in LS in 2013 would not be the same guys from 1992, hence CJ would have nothing to do with Franklin and would never be seen. I can accept that a hell of a lot better than all the "universes" stuff.