In December 2013, Rockstar appeared confident Grand Theft Auto 5 would receive single player DLC in the new year. Now, almost four years on, the developer has all but confirmed GTA 5's future updates will be exclusive to GTA Online.
In conversation with Game Informer, Rockstar's director of design Imran Sarwar suggests the scale of the base game, the next-gen console and PC launches of 2014 and 2015, and work on the forthcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 has, in essence, made subsequent single player story modes unfeasible for Grand Theft Auto 5.
"As a company we love single player more than anything, and believe in it absolutely—for storytelling and a sense of immersion in a world, multiplayer games don’t rival single player games," says Sarwar. "With GTA 5, the single player game was absolutely massive and very, very complete. It was three games in one. The next-gen versions took a year of everyone’s time to get right, then the online component had a lot of potential, but to come close to realizing that potential also sucked up a lot of resources. And then there are other games—in particular Red Dead Redemption 2.
"The combination of these three factors means for this game, we did not feel single player expansions were either possible or necessary, but we may well do them for future projects. At Rockstar, we will always have bandwidth issues because we are perfectionists and to make huge complex games takes a lot of time and resources. Not everything is always possible, but we still love single player open-world games more than anything."
For the sake of reference, Rockstar's December 2013 Newswire post claims the developer then had "big plans for substantial additions in 2014" where it would continue "Michael, Franklin and Trevor's action, mayhem and unexpected adventures in Southern San Andreas." Elsewhere in GI's interview, however, Sarwar highlights mid-2014 as a turning point for GTA Online—whereafter supporting its ever-increasing playerbase with a host of updates clearly became priority.
Later, Sarwar admits that GTA Online's updates may become less frequent when Red Dead Redemption 2 arrives. "One of the enjoyable things about working on a project like this is that you can iterate quickly," he says, "and change and evolve plans fairly quickly too, so we don’t have to be as clear in our plans as with other projects."
Game Informer's interview with Sarwar can be read in full in this direction.