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GTA 6: release date and location rumors about Rockstar's next crime adventure

GTA 4 - Niko Bellic
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

Will 2021 be the year of GTA6? Likely not, but perhaps it will be the year that Rockstar finally announce it. GTA 6 hasn't been officially confirmed yet, but its existence seems like a given. Rockstar has sold nearly 110 million copies of GTA 5, and when the Epic Game Store made it the weekly freebie the entire store crashed with folks looking to snag a seven year old game. With Red Dead Redemption 2 now well out of the gate, fans are getting the itch for some GTA news. Rumors and fake leaks are rampant, with hidden meanings being projected onto minor details at every turn. 

Given that Rockstar's recent blockbuster games tend to land four-to-five years apart, that puts a GTA 6 release date at 2022/2023, assuming GTA 6 is the next project and not Rockstar Table Tennis 2. That said, Take Two's recent quarterly earnings reveal that the company is making more money than ever from GTA Online's microtransactions and DLC. Although some of Rockstar's attention is still devoted to updating both GTA 5 online and Red Dead Redemption 2 online, a full new singleplayer campaign for the series feels inevitable.

The company has reaffirmed GTA 5's importance in the years ahead, especially with versions for the PS5 and Xbox Series X on the way. With a new console generation hitting the shelves, the next Grand Theft Auto game will likely be bigger than ever. At the moment there are very few specifics out there, but the Housers and other Rockstar devs have spoken in roundabout terms about the GTA series generally—maybe we can tease out a few clues. 

GTA 6 facts

  • Release date: A total mystery right now, but don't expect it for multiple years.
  • Location/Setting: Some rumors point to a Vice City return, others to South America, but nothing official.
  • GTA 6 on PC: GTA 4, GTA 5, and Red Dead Redemption 2 have all arrived on PC eventually, so it seems fair to bet on GTA 6 as well.

In early 2021 we learned of a patent filed by Take-Two called "System And Method For Virtual Navigation In A Gaming Environment" related to simulated character pathfinding for big outdoor environments. There's no guarantee that this is related to development on GTA 6, but it was attributed to developers at Rockstar. If it is related to the development of the next GTA, it likely means Rockstar is planning some big improvements to simulated behavior in its next open world city.

GTA 6 release date: when could it be?

We're certainly a long way off guessing dates at this stage, but we might be able to start trying to pinpoint a year, at least. 

A recent SEC filing by Rockstar's parent company Take-Two claims that they're planning a huge spike in advertising spending during the fiscal year 2024, for a total of almost $90 million. Not many games in T2's stable would call in that kind of cash. It's the type of figure you'd expect for their next huge release. A T2 representative has since told Gamesindustry Biz that the marketing spike is related to third-party companies, not an internal studio like Rockstar. 

That doesn't exactly rule out a big release during the holidays of 2023, which is about when we'd expect to see GTA 6 if it rolled into full production after Red Dead Redemption 2's launch in October 2018.

Rockstar has recently committed to bringing GTA 5 to the next generation of consoles and are working on a standalone version of GTA Online with plans to continue content updates during 2021. The continued commitment to GTA 5 certainly points to GTA 6 arriving several years away instead of showing up unexpectedly in the near future.

What will the setting be for GTA 6?

(Image credit: Extrazoom)

Beyond a release date, the most important thing we want to know is where (and when) GTA 6 will be set. Everything flows from Rockster's choice of city and decade. GTA 5's return to Los Angeles sets us up for a possible return to Vice City. In an interview with Develop in 2013, president of Rockstar North Leslie Benzies referred again to Rockstar's trifecta of preferred GTA cities 

“We don’t know what GTA 6 will be, but we’ve got some ideas. We’ve got about 45 years’ worth of ideas we want to do. We’ll pick the right ones. It comes from the idea first. Where it is going to be set is the first question. That then defines the missions; you’re doing different things in LA than in New York or Miami. The map and story get worked up together, and the story is a basic flow of how it works out so you can layer the mission in."

Speaking of old GTA cities, a few years ago a Liberty City scene appeared on a Rockstar dev's profile, apparently mocked up in GTA 5's engine. This could easily have been a technical test, or perhaps a scene from some scrapped singleplayer DLC, but Rockstar once talked about putting all of their cities into one mega-game. That sounds absurdly ambitious, but Rockstar might well have the resources to do it.

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Alternatively, back in 2013, Dan Houser suggested that there's still some interest in London as a setting, even if it doesn't end up being part of the Grand Theft Auto series. Speaking to the Guardian, Houser said: "I think for us, my gut feeling is, GTA London was cool for the time, but games were more limited then. These days I think we would love to set a game in the UK, set in London, whatever, but I don't know if it would be a GTA game. I think there are plenty of great stories we could tell about the UK, great environments to showcase, great gameplay mechanics that could have a UK bent to them—I just don't think it would be a GTA necessarily." 

All of which is to say: who knows? In another interview Houser opened up the possibility that a new GTA could be quite different in tone and setting to previous entries, though it's hard to imagine the series moving away from the USA. “At the moment, it feels like GTA’s DNA is contemporary-ish, American-ish, English-speaking-ish, because that’s what it has been," Houser tells Polygon. "But that doesn’t necessarily limit it to those, that’s just what we’ve done so far.” 

What other GTA 6 rumors are out there?

There have been more fairly spurious rumours around GTA 6. The Know cites an inside source that puts the GTA 6 release date as 2021-2022. The rumour suggests that the new game will be spread between Vice City and South America. A wild Christian Today rumour round up guesses at a 60s London setting and time travel. Comic Book gave credence to an anonymous since-removed pastebin post claiming that GTA 6 will feature multiple big cities connected by a vast stretch of land featuring smaller towns. In this version the player starts out as a small crook and ends up running a drug-running criminal operation.

An older leak has resurfaced, showing what the poster claims is the map for GTA 6. It appears to be a riff on a cruder-looking alleged leak from 2018. The new post is a bit more convincing, a split island that looks like it could actually belong in a Rockstar game despite the blurry quality. Even so, this could very well be a persistent fake.

An anonymous Reddit post oddly cites one of our writers as a source (if we knew what GTA 6 was we'd tell you). That post suggests that GTA 6 is codenamed Project Americas and will be set in Vice city and a new city based on Rio de Janeiro. It's rumoured to be set between 1970 and 1980 and the main character is mixed up with the drug trade. The game may feature drug empire mechanics inspired by Vice City. This rumour claims that Netflix's Narcos is a major inspiration and your car will behave like Red Dead Redemption 2's horse, in that it serves a mobile storage as well as transport. Visually the game will be more stylised than the photorealistic Red Dead Redemption 2 and characters will speak in their native language with subtitles.

Rockstar updates the domain

Late in March 2020, some Reddit users noticed that the domain registered to Rockstar's parent Take-Two no longer redirects to Rockstar's own site. It now returns an error instead. Naturally folks are speculating that this means Rockstar is getting ready to make use of the dormant web address, potentially with some kind of reveal.

Will there be a GTA 6 online?

GTA 5's online Los Santos has yet to run out of gas. Rockstar is still regularly adding new activities, content, and events to its big multiplayer world. Given that GTA 4, GTA 5, and both Red Dead Redemption games have had online servers, it feels like a must-have for GTA 6. 

Will GTA 6 come to PC?

It's a pretty solid bet. Rockstar's past with PC versions has been a bit erratic, but the immense popularity of both GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC is a great reason for Rockstar to take the platform seriously.

And it seems like Rockstar feels the same, considering it released the Rockstar Games Launcher on PC in 2019. It's hard to believe the studio would release its own games launcher if it didn't plan on hosting its future games there, including an assumed GTA 6. That said, we can probably expect a gap between the release of GTA 6 on consoles and PC. It took GTA 5 a year and a half to come to PC, and RDR2's gap was almost a year as well.

Based in Bath with the UK team, Tom loves strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.