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Lock n' Stock

Rockstar's Widening Release Gap...

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Lock n' Stock
Posted (edited)

So I imagine the departure of Dan Houser and the recent announcement of yet another re-release of GTA V (the third in less than a decade) has left a few die-hard R* fans somewhat disgruntled and uncertain of their future, but what I really wanted to discuss here was the large gaps they now have between releases. This image has stuck with me ever since someone else here posted it.

 

d114qxtarp401.jpg

 

So as you can see, Rockstar's per year number of releases remained fairly consistent from 1999-2010, with usually about 2-4 games being released in any given year (aside from 2007 which only had Manhunt 2, possibly because GTA IV was right around the corner). Meanwhile, things started to slow down during 2011-2013, but nothing too worrisome. After 2013 however, the gap between Rockstar's releases seems to have widened staggeringly, the only other major release they've managed to put out since GTA V being Red Dead Redemption 2 (a full 5-year gap).

 

Now this has led me to question exactly, what happened after GTA V? Why did Rockstar suddenly just stop releasing games on a yearly basis? I understand that game development is more complex these days, mainly because of higher budgets and evolving technology. The thing is however that Rockstar has about a good 6 or so development studios under their belt, yet (aside from North and San Diego) it doesn't really seem like they've put them to a lot of use aside from having them as support studios. Again, you can bring up the argument about development costs, but how is it that other publishers/developers like Ubisoft (regardless of what you think of them) manage to get at least one major title out every year, yet Rockstar can barely manage to get one out every 4 years?

 

Maybe I don't quite understand how game development works, but this is always a thing that as perplexed me over the years, and with nothing new announced from Rockstar lately, it doesn't seem to be something that's going to end anytime soon. I would really like to hear other people's thoughts on this. Personally for me, I believe it's Rockstar's focus on GTA Online combined with their infamously poor working conditions as well as technological advancements making game development more ambitious (and therefore more time-consuming).

 

Ask yourself though, how many more titles would we have from Rockstar (including a new GTA) if they weren’t so focused on milking Online for every last cent?

Edited by Lock n' Stock
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Jason

Mix of development times lengthening plus North shenanigans, I'm guessing. Dev times went up across the board in general for game developers and Rockstar went all in on RDR2, RDR2 wouldn't be the game it is if they siphoned off a portion of that team and had them making a smaller game in the meantime. One giant game or multiple smaller games, basically. Jason Schreier for his last article for Kotaku mentioned how GTA VI may start as a smaller project so Rockstar can get it out there quicker, which goes along with the rumour of Take-Two wanting Rockstar to release games quicker.

 

As for Rockstar North and the whole Benzies saga, it must have had some impact. North is by basically all accounts Rockstar's main development studio, it lead development on all mainline GTA games and also from what I understand led RDR2 development. Shortly after GTA V it lost it's studio president who was seemingly a hugely important figure, plus multiple veterans in key positions to my knowledge. That possibly led to North being a little bit rudderless for a little while before things got back on track.

 

I'm by no means defending one new game in seven years and what could end up being two new games total in ten if GTA VI rumours are to be believed, but everytime that chart gets posted I honestly roll my eyes a little because while the time between Rockstar games is a bit ridiculous now, everytime that picture gets posted the discussion around it always fails to take into account the increased development times when the current generation of consoles released, which released literally exactly when Rockstar's output slowed down.

 

To put it into perspective, Ubisoft, with it's history of very formulaic game design across it's games and copy and paste assets takes about three years or so to make an Assassin's Creed title, even with some of the biggest teams in the industry behind it - team sizes not too dissimilar to Rockstar's. Five years isn't that insane for something like RDR2 in comparison.

 

So the better question to all this is what would you rather have, one huge RDR / GTA style title every few years or smaller less ambitious titles every one or two? There's no right or wrong answer but Rockstar are going to be in a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation either way. Many people expect something special from them everytime they make a game now, something huge and ambitious. Games like that aren't whipped up in two or three years these days. You could perhaps say the solution is for them to expand a whole lot, using that GTAO money of theirs, but that also has potential downsides, such as creating B teams that aren't able to reach the quality fans expect etc. 

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Algonquin Assassin

I think the sweet spot would be every 4 years or so. There's no way we can expect them to release 2-3 games a year like they used to, to maintain consistent quality, but a game every 4 years, 5 at the most would be fine. I didn't mind the wait for RDR2 coming 5 years after GTA V, but with regards to the GTA series it's getting ridiculous IMO.

 

I know it's been said so many times since the announcement of GTA V coming to PS5, but I still can't believe we're heading into yet another console generation with the only recent GTA being GTA V. That means the PS4 and XB1 missed out on a new GTA title. Yes GTA VI will eventually come, but how long is it going to be after GTA V's original release? 9, 10, 11 years etc? 

 

The sad reality is I think it has less to do them getting their heads wrapped around new technology and more because of the cancerous thing called GTAO. While ever it's racking up millions there's no incentive for them to move on which is really the ONLY reason GTA V's being released again on the PS5. If this release gap continues to grow we wont see RDR3 for another decade and it's likely most of us will be too old to even care anymore. I'll be in my late 40s by then.

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ScammedPlayer

Rockstar is a company, and like any other company, if it has to sacrifice R* hard fans to make more money, so be it.

 

Forget about any thought that R* wanted to make great videogames. They just want to make money, and you can see it with GTA Online and the image you posted.

 

The point is that this company showed us what truly is: like any other. They have great skills making videogames, that's all. Customer's policy? HA! They don't give a f*ck.

 

If you want them to change, don't buy their stuff and support other companies.

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Jason

You know, if Rockstar launched GTA VI this year it'd probably make more money in a month than GTAO would make in two or three years. I doubt they're sat on their hands with a finished GTA VI thinking "should we release this now or wait another two years so GTAO can be milked some more?".

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Turan
Posted (edited)

Looking at those games they've released in between the GTA's and honestly, I can't say I'm that excited about any of them bar Red Dead Redemption. 

 

I don't mind Rockstar taking a lot of time to make super ambitious games for the franchises I care the most about. I'll wait a few more years for GTA6, no worries. Plenty of other games to keep me busy.

 

Just make sure that GTA6 will be legendary like RDR2. That's all. 

Edited by Turan
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Commander S

What bugs me about that timeline pic is that it includes stuff where R* (as publisher) released ports for things, even if they were developed by other studios - Max Payne I and II aren't R* games, and neither is Oni. :sigh:

 

Also, it gets trotted out as 'proof' that R* doesn't release as many games nowadays because they're too busy milking GTAO updates - when really, it's just down to R* titles getting bigger and more lavish, starting mainly with GTA IV. GTA San Andreas might have been big and detailed for the time, but it was still a rougher-looking game than something like Metal Gear Solid 3, and R* wasn't yet at the point where people associated the company with 'the most eye-wateringly lavish/expensive production values in "AAA" games' like they do now.

 

And that's kind of the problem: even without the likes of Naughty Dog and (more recently) CDPR existing as competition, R*'s got into this position of 'needing' to outdo their last release in terms of detail and expense - RDR2 was to GTA V what V was to RDR, and what RDR was to GTA IV. Imagine if GTA VI comes out, and it's only slightly a step up from RDR2 - that's not going to cut it for a lot of people, who expect R* to redefine the new high-water mark for production values every time. And that means more time, money, manpower, etc. - is it really all that surprising that R* doesn't have multiple teams working on separate releases anymore, or that their games take longer and longer to make?


 

Don't read that as a defence, by the way - IMO, it's an unsustainable way of doing things for any developer, and in R*'s case, I feel it's not in service of things like mechanical/systemic innovation/improvement. I'll take a game that doesn't have a thousand unique pedestrians, each with their own individual voice actor and 24-hour in-game animation cycles, but does something new/interesting systemically, looks good enough, comes out in a timely manner, and doesn't grind a workforce of thousands into a fine powder - better that than opulence for opulence's sake, when it's arguable that most people don't even notice half of the most pedantic little details.

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Lock n' Stock
Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Commander S said:

Also, it gets trotted out as 'proof' that R* doesn't release as many games nowadays because they're too busy milking GTAO updates - when really, it's just down to R* titles getting bigger and more lavish, starting mainly with GTA IV. GTA San Andreas might have been big and detailed for the time, but it was still a rougher-looking game than something like Metal Gear Solid 3, and R* wasn't yet at the point where people associated the company with 'the most eye-wateringly lavish/expensive production values in "AAA" games' like they do now.

 

And that's kind of the problem: even without the likes of Naughty Dog and (more recently) CDPR existing as competition, R*'s got into this position of 'needing' to outdo their last release in terms of detail and expense - RDR2 was to GTA V what V was to RDR, and what RDR was to GTA IV. Imagine if GTA VI comes out, and it's only slightly a step up from RDR2 - that's not going to cut it for a lot of people, who expect R* to redefine the new high-water mark for production values every time. And that means more time, money, manpower, etc. - is it really all that surprising that R* doesn't have multiple teams working on separate releases anymore, or that their games take longer and longer to make?

I mean, that's actually a valid point as well. It was never really until GTA IV when Rockstar were praised for their graphical detail. Games like San Andreas and Bully looked quite dated even around the time they came out, but they more than made up for that with the gameplay. Personally, I think it's important that both things are priortised equally, because what's the point of a beautiful world if there's nothing to do in it? GTA V had a vast map and great customisation options, but the activities outside of missions (aside from rampages and arms trafficking) were pretty mundane at best. Even GTA IV/EFLC had stuff like vigilante missions, gang/drug wars and fight clubs.

 

Personally, I'm more dissapointed than anything that Rockstar never made a sequel to Bully, even when they had the chance. There's so much they could do with a Bully successor using the RAGE engine, but they never took that opportunity. 

Edited by Lock n' Stock
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Willman249
Posted (edited)

Keep in mind it took 1,000 of Rockstar's ~2,000 employees  and 80,000-160,000 lines of dialogue to make GTA V while it took 1,600 of Rockstar's ~2,000 employees and 500,000 lines of dialogue to make RDR2.  They do have plenty of money, but they could be using it to expand their operations and resources.  I have a feeling that's what Dan Houser and Leslie Benzies left because they got so frustrated with Take-Two Interactive and mainly their CEO Strauss Zelnick who has narcissistic all about the money MBA type written all over him wouldn't give Rockstar more autonomy, allow them to build more resources into their developer nor green light any major projects outside of already popular franchises or especially GTA Online.  The fact that Strauss Zelnick the head of Take-Two Interactive, is a non-gamer businessman who probably views them as an unhealthy waste of time behind closed doors.  He can never speak like a normal human being instead just talks in corporate jargon like everyone else in the world is an MBA graduate while posing for fitness magazines.  He also views customers as cash registers judigng by the way he talks in leaked business meeting calls and the way Take-Two has handled NBA 2k series.  They can't make games as frequently as they used to with the level of detail and scale their current games have, because they don't have enough people working for them.  The cancellation of GTA V single player DLC was clearly Take-Two's doing.  Who knows? One thing is for certain, as long as Take-Two and Strauss Zelnick are in charge we get a new game once every 5 years. I'm willing to bet that GTA VI will be released in 2023 and RDR III will be released in 2026 towards the beginning of the end of the next generation.  I loved Rockstar pre-2014 because it seemed like at the time they were the only company avoiding the micro-transaction, always online, DRM, nickle and dime bandwagon that EA and Activision were embracing.  I think when NBA 2K starting embracing gambling mechanics full on was a warning sign for Rockstar.  Keep in mind GTA Online has pretty much become what they lampooned in Righteous Slaughter 7.  

 

My feeling is that they're remastering GTA V on PS5 just to buy time with the next generation of consoles until GTA VI is released around late-2023 and we will get Red Dead Redemption III in late 2026 or early-2027 towards the beginning of the end of the next generation.  We won't see a trailer until after GTA V remastered is released.  This is just one last milking, I hope so long as Sam Houser is still at the helm at Rockstar he won't let the company devolve into a GTA Online server maintenance company.  

 

 

Edited by Willman249
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Lock n' Stock
On 6/26/2020 at 10:27 PM, Willman249 said:

My feeling is that they're remastering GTA V on PS5 just to buy time with the next generation of consoles until GTA VI is released around late-2023 and we will get Red Dead Redemption III in late 2026 or early-2027 towards the beginning of the end of the next generation.  We won't see a trailer until after GTA V remastered is released.  This is just one last milking, I hope so long as Sam Houser is still at the helm at Rockstar he won't let the company devolve into a GTA Online server maintenance company.  

No doubt at all from me that much of Rockstar's sh*tty practices nowadays are Take-Two's doing. Zelnick is a real piece of trash.

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Willman249
On 7/6/2020 at 8:22 AM, Lock n' Stock said:

No doubt at all from me that much of Rockstar's sh*tty practices nowadays are Take-Two's doing. Zelnick is a real piece of trash.

He is, we must not allow him and Take-Two to do to Rockstar what they did to NBA 2k.  He’s also quoted as saying if he had it his way he’d have Rockstar doing a more much smaller, simpler, cheaper single player games and focus mainly on online games.  You know, turn Rockstar into what Acitivision turned Infinity Ward into or worse what Electronic Arts did with Maxis cause of EAs handling of the Sim City series and what they did to Visceral and are now doing to BioWare (which I know is going to be shut down very soon)

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Mister Pink

Rockstar has seemingly become less "Rockstar" and more "Take-Two."  

 

Rockstar's fall from grace has been bad. Microtransactions and freemium play. Lack of releases. Not supporting games with single player DLC. Senior staff quitting/being fired. 

 

With the exception of RDR2 singleplayer experience, Rockstar Games is a shell of it's former self. My future hope is in CDPR. They to me are what Rockstar represented  in the 00's. And they don't seem to have the same corporate overlords like Rockstar have (T2). 

 

I would be embarrassed if I worked for Rockstar had to tell people I was working GTA V for the 9th generation of consoles. I'd probably be richer in money but with fast depleting swag in the game development world. 

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