Grand Theft Auto V may have been a return to the roots of the series after the dour Grand Theft Auto IV, but it’s fair to say that GTA Online was a groundbreaking inclusion. The multiplayer mode has absorbed scores of players with its social twist on the game’s sandbox — and its microtransactions have proven enormously successful.
However, financial reward and popularity among players are apparently not enough to make GTA Online a permanent fixture. Speaking at the Cowen and Company Technology, Media and Telecom Conference this week, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick noted that the mode and the franchise will be “rested” when it seems necessary.
“Not only was it not our intention that GTA Online was permanent, but it’s important that it not be permanent,” said Zelnick. “We have to rest the franchise at some point.”
In a sense, it’s of little surprise that the publisher would be keen to rest such a major franchise to ensure that fans don’t become burned out and move on to something else. That said, it’s interesting to see that Take-Two would voluntarily retire a golden goose like GTA Online.
Unlike the franchise’s previous attempts at multiplayer, the online element of Grand Theft Auto V places players in a version of San Andreas populated by up to 29 other humans. New content is regularly added to the mode for free, but players can gain an advantage by purchasing in-game currency.
This set-up has by all accounts been a huge financial success for all involved. There are plenty of ways that Rockstar could expand upon the experience and keep that money rolling in, potentially until the as-yet-unannounced Grand Theft Auto VI brings about GTA Online 2.0.
However, giving GTA Online a breather might be the best way to ensure the success of the next game in the franchise. Three years after Grand Theft Auto IV, we saw a trailer for Grand Theft Auto V — but three years after the release of that game, GTA Online still seems current.
Giving the series a break should eliminate any worries from the studio and the publisher about Grand Theft Auto fatigue. However, if such a major franchise is being rested, Rockstar must have something else that fans are eagerly anticipating to fill the void.