Sources claim that Grand Theft Auto VI will have a female protagonist, less content that could be deemed “punching down,” and a kinder and less intensive work environment and Rockstar Games.
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Bloomberg reports that, “according to people familiar with development,” Rockstar Games had already begun trying to done down content that could be deemed offensive as early as 2020.
After the death of George Floyd and subsequent riots, the studio allegedly halted plans for their Cops ‘n’ Crooks mode for Grand Theft Auto Online. Senior executives were concerned how releasing such a mode — where teams of players fought against each other in teams of police and criminals — would be taken at that time.
Noting that Rockstar Games had also censored allegedly transphobic content from the latest console release of Grand Theft Auto V, the outlet reports the studio had also “significantly narrowed its gender pay gap.” Bloomberg then — with surprisingly little fanfare — reveals the claim that Grand Theft Auto VI will have the series’ first playable female protagonist “according to people familiar with the game.”
As per the source, there will be a pair of protagonists influenced by the Wild West’s Bonnie and Clyde. They will be a pair of bank robbers (and we assume lovers if the influence holds up), with the woman being Latina.
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Rockstar Games may also be trying not to “punch down” with jokes about marginalized groups, the source claims, in contrast to prior games. While prior titles had seemingly mocked American society as a whole — with no holds bared against any group — the outlet notes how Grand Theft Auto V’s tone was a mirror to the behavior of Rockstar Games employees.
Sources claim the company had a workplace culture “full of drinking, brawling and excursions to strip clubs” — as described by Bloomberg — but also crunch and long hours. The latter allegedly saw employees working nights, weekends, and 100-hour weeks to meet development schedules, which employees spoke out against across 2018 and 2019.
After this, Rockstar Games not only attempted to reinvent its workplace but how it was perceived. According to one of over 20 current and former employees who spoke to Bloomberg, the developer was “a boys’ club transformed into a real company.”
Grand Theft Auto VI has had a slower development — allegedly starting in some capacity in 2014 — and while hindered by the COVID 19 pandemic and lockdown orders, delays were partly due to the new changes aiming to improve conditions at the company. These include restructuring the design department and keeping overtime at a reasonable level with more producers to monitor schedules.
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Contractors became full-time employees — with abusive managers allegedly being given the boot — employees had care packages across the pandemic, and have also been given mental health and leave benefits.
The new “flexitime” policy even allows employees to immediately take time off for every hour worked. Over the past four years, management has reassured excessive overtime wouldn’t be needed for Grand Theft Auto VI’s development.
Another source told Bloomberg that the dramatic changes to Rockstar Games’ work culture could not only help with retaining and attracting staff, but also make games “better for everyone working on them.”
While sources say morale has allegedly been the highest its ever been, some “aren’t sure” the studio can still make “the chart-topping caliber of game the studio has become known for.” For example, to avoid excessive hours, the purported initial plan for Grand Theft Auto VI to feature large areas based on North and South America was scrapped.
Instead, the map will be focused on a fictional version of Miami — much like Vice City — and surrounding areas. The game also reportedly had the code-name “Project Americas,” which matches prior rumors that claimed the game would introduce a female protagonist.
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Grand Theft Auto VI will instead be updated overtime, adding new missions and even cities; ideally reducing crunch towards the final months of development. Despite this, the game allegedly promises to include more interior locations than prior entries in the series.
While some claim to be adjusting to these new working conditions — such as additional producers, directors, and middlemen causing communication bottlenecks and confusion of who would make final calls — others told Bloomberg they aren’t sure what Grand Theft Auto would look like today.
Executive Producer Dan Houser left Rockstar Games in 2019, who “led creative direction” on the series, as noted by Bloomberg. Several of the sources pointed out that satirizing modern American culture would be difficult, as it’s “already a satire of itself.”
Bloomberg reports that industry analysts are expecting Grand Theft Auto VI to launch in Take-Two Interactive’s 2024 fiscal year. That would be April 2023 to March 2024. However, some sources told the outlet they didn’t know of any release date; expecting a 2024 release at least.
Thanks to “loose schedules” and a lack of progress, a group of designers allegedly quit Rockstar’s Edinburgh office. Others also noted there was “little pressure to get a new game out the door.”
Is treating staff better synonymous with making less “offensive” games? What do you expect out of Grand Theft Auto VI? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.
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