Forget Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and James Bond. None of the next installments of these popular franchises will likely hold a candle to the anticipation of a new Grand Theft Auto sequel slated to land sometime in 2025.
The first trailer for GTA VI, in which gamers live out their fantasies as denizens of the criminal underworld, dropped on Tuesday after a leak on social media prompted publisher Rockstar Games to move forward with the planned Dec. 5 reveal.
Not even a day later and the topic already dominates the trending list on YouTube, with over 7 million likes and counting. The 62 million views prompted a sore Linda Yaccarino—still in damage control mode following Elon Musk’s car crash interview—to plead with Rockstar to embed the trailer on X rather than direct her audience away and onto Google’s rival streaming platform.
The fascination around the game is partly because it’s been a full decade since its landmark predecessor landed. When GTA Vlaunched in 2013, the game obliterated sales records, needing just three days to cross the $1 billion threshold.
It holds the record for the highest-grossing entertainment property of any kind—including film, music, and books—shipping 190 million units to date, and still commands a price many years later between $20 and $30 depending on console generation.
“Grand Theft Auto VI continues our efforts to push the limits of what’s possible in highly immersive, story-driven open-world experiences,” promised Rockstar Games president Sam Houser in a statement, calling it the “biggest, most immersive evolution of the Grand Theft Auto series yet.”
Rockstar, founded by Houser and his brother Dan 25 years ago this month, revealed little of the story other than it appears to center on a Bonnie and Clyde–type pair of small-time criminals.
The scenery shifts from GTA V’s San Andreas, a microcosm of California, to the streets of Vice City, which served as the neon-lit backdrop of the 2002 GTA installment by the same name. Given all the recent buzz around Miami as a new symbol of America’s wealth gap, Rockstar could hardly have picked a timelier setting for its protagonists’ fictional crime spree.
‘Dependent on the future success’
Like any trailer, it should whet the appetite for the game’s arrival sometime in the next 13 to 24 months (if the predecessor is anything to go by, expect a release in autumn just in time for the holiday shopping season).
But it is little indication about the quality of the finished product, and there are big questions surrounding the next installment.
Two of the most important figures credited with the franchise’s chart-topping success moved on after GTA V launched. Lead writer Dan Houser, the creative brain behind the franchise and Rockstar’s cofounder together with brother Sam, left in 2020.
Producer and game designer Leslie Benzies departed to found his own studio and is now working on a similar GTA-style game believed to incorporate blockchain elements from the crypto world.
Landing another hit is crucial for Rockstar and its parent company Take-Two Interactive Software. A decade ago when it launched the previous installment, consolidated annual revenue almost doubled.
“We are dependent on the future success of our Grand Theft Auto products,” Take-Two warned investors in its latest full fiscal year report.
Thanks to developers like Rockstar, CD Projekt Red, and most recently Larian Studios, video games as a genre have long shed their stigma as a form of low art, becoming perhaps the major force in the entertainment industry.
“Research has shown that Gen Z and Gen Alpha prefer gaming to any other form of entertainment—more than social media, more than watching television or listening to music, more than going to the movie theater,” said Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who himself landed a hit with this year’s Harry Potter–themedHogwarts Legacygame.
On Thursday the industry is set to celebrate its equivalent of the Oscars, the Game Awards, with titles like Baldur’s Gate 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom hot contenders for the top prize as Game of the Year.
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