Cars replace horses: GTA 6 development means no more 'major' Red Dead Online content updates

A posse rides off
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

With work on Grand Theft Auto 6 ramping up, Rockstar is making some changes to how it will support Red Dead Online in the future, and the short version is that no further "major themed content updates" are going to be released.

"Over the past few years, we have been steadily moving more development resources towards the next entry in the Grand Theft Auto series—understanding more than ever the need to exceed players’ expectations and for this next entry to be the best it can possibly be—and as a result, we are in the process of making some changes to how we support Red Dead Online," Rockstar wrote.

"Alongside seasonal special events and experience improvements—plus other changes to enhance and maintain a healthy Red Dead Online environment—we plan to build upon existing modes and add new Telegram Missions this year, rather than delivering major themed content updates like in previous years, and we will continue to highlight and share the creative efforts of our Red Dead community at every opportunity via the Newswire and beyond."

Along with the special events and ongoing maintenance, Rockstar said it will continue to showcase the "massively rich world" of RDO with ongoing monthly events.

The immediate reaction to the news was surprisingly upbeat. I expected word of a drawdown of Red Dead Online support would be met with howls, but most people seem more excited that Rockstar is finally going all-in on a new Grand Theft Auto. Which I guess is fair: Sometimes you have to make a choice, and while Red Dead Online is great, it's also been around for a few years now—and man, people really want that new Grand Theft Auto.

Of course, there are some exceptions:

See more

Some players are even planning a "funeral" for Red Dead Online on July 13 to protest what they see as the game's abandonment by Rockstar. Ironically, planning that event began a couple days ahead of today's announcement. It's already attracted several thousand RSVPs and I suspect today's news will likely bring in more.

See more

Changes are coming to GTA Online as well, although they don't appear driven by the focus on GTA 6: An upcoming update will expand the Criminal Career options of Executives, Bikers, Gunrunners, and Nightclub Owners, and add a new set of Contact Mission that will give players the opportunity to become a special IAA field operative. The update will also make a number of highly-requested gameplay changes, including a reduction in the effectiveness of homing missiles and countermeasures on the Oppressor Mk II, a more convenient way to access snacks and armor, and the ability to launch Sell Missions in Invite Only sessions. GTA$ payouts are also being increased throughout the game, to "allow people greater freedom to do what they like and get what they want faster."

"Once again, we want to thank the community for their continued support," said Rockstar. "We are truly grateful for all the constructive feedback we’ve received up to this point and hope you keep it coming. This direct feedback from players has been instrumental to the ongoing success of both GTA Online and Red Dead Online—and an integral element of what helps us continue to evolve and improve as we push ahead towards the future."

Naturally, there's no hint of a Grand Theft Auto 6 release date anywhere in the update, but despite this shift in resources it's likely still a long way off: Our expectation is that it will be out sometime in 2024, or maybe even 2025.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.