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Can GTA V wait for the next generation?

by William Schwartz

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It’s been a long wait for fans on GTA V. What’s made it even longer is the 2008 release of Grand Theft Auto IV, which was a milestone for Rockstar, offering up their biggest and most comprehensive title to date. In this lengthy console generation, fans of Grand Theft Auto have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to game releases. An expansion here and there coupled with the retail release of GTA IV is paltry in comparison to the sheer numbers that other big-name franchises have put out. Halo has seen three major releases, with another on the way. Call of Duty has seen seven new titles. Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield, Gears of War, you can keep going down the line, Grand Theft Auto is behind the pace that the industry is setting, and by a long shot. With Rockstar’s dedication to quality and the sheer size and scope of GTA titles, it’s hard to expect a Grand Theft Auto title every year, two, or even three for that matter. That being the case, Can GTA V wait for the next generation?

I bet if Rockstar had their way, they would say yes. It’s not like Grand Theft Auto is the only franchise that does well for the company. Nearly everything that the developer puts out turns to gold. L.A. Noire did well last year, Red Dead Redemption even better the year before, and this year they’ve already released one big title by the name of Max Payne 3. Giving them more time and power to work with would enable Rockstar to create something that wowed in the same way that GTA IV did when it arrived four years ago. As it stands, there have been some significant improvements by developers in terms of game quality as this generation has carried on. New ways to squeeze more power out of the current generation consoles have seen some spectacular results in a wide array of titles in recent years. For a game like GTA V though, you can’t replace more raw horsepower and memory with compression and optimization. There are limits in place on current generation consoles, and we’ve probably seen the best and biggest games of this generation, or something that is at least close to what will be considered the best when we reminisce about the seventh console generation. With this current generation of consoles strapped for both power and storage, can Rockstar even produce something that feels or looks much different than what they’ve already done? Outside of the halls of Rockstar, nobody really knows these answers since we’ve heard very little about GTA V.

They do call it the games “industry” for a reason. It’s a business. A business where developers have to answer to publishers, and publishers have to answer to shareholders. It may not come down to artistic vision as much as it does to the bottom-line. Take Two Interactive publishes Rockstar’s titles, and a recent release of financial projections for the coming months ahead for the company, indicate that GTA V may be arriving in 2013 at the latest. At least that’s what analyst projections have been updated to reflect. Though the publisher has yet to reassure investors with a concrete release date, and companies have been known to miss their projections from time to time. These same analysts also project that Rockstar simply must release GTA V as they will be facing numerous industry headwinds, as more consumers start looking towards the next generation. Which these same analysts predict will arrive in 2013 and six months after the alleged release of GTA V. So we’re talking about a small window there. Does that make or break GTA V’s success? Probably not.

Maybe it’ll be the best of both worlds for GTA fans in the coming months and year ahead, one stop on the current-gen, and then another when the next generation arrives. In a perfect world, true GTA fans that have intentions of getting a next gen console at launch would likely line-up to get their hands on a better looking version of the game. I know I would. Since both the next generation console situation and the GTA V release date situation are both being treated with more secrecy than most gamers care to stomach, the answers to all of these questions will come with time. As for myself, I’d rather wait it out and see where Rockstar’s imagination runs with even less technical restraint.

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