Rockstar’s long-awaited Grand Theft Auto 6 is still at least two years away but being made under improved conditions, an extensive new Bloomberg report has detailed.
The report centres on changes within Rockstar since the company’s public reckoning with crunch in 2018, when founder Dan Houser said his team had worked “100-hour weeks” to finish Red Dead Redemption 2, and after various reports of the company’s frat-house-style operation.
Subsequent changes to working styles and benefits are part of an attempt to “reinvent” the company as a more progressive workplace, the report states, which also extends to the content featured in its games.
The report states that GTA6 will include the series’ first playable female protagonist as one of its lead characters (a Bonnie and Clyde-style duo, where the woman is Latina).
It also reiterates previously-reported details, such as the game’s map – originally planned to feature “large swaths of North and South America” – being scaled back to make development more managable, with a map initially focused on modern day Miami (Vice City) and surrounding areas that will then be expanded over time.
Unlike previous games, GTA6 developers are said to be avoiding jokes which “punch down” to marginalised groups.
The report also details Cops ‘n’ Crooks, a planned cops-and-robbers-style mode for GTA Online that Rockstar canned in response to the police murder of George Floyd.
Other changes within Rockstar include a new flexitime policy to immediately gain back extra time spent working, a narrowed gender pay gap, and the hiring of additional producers to ensure workloads are better managed.
Not all of these changes have gone smoothly, and some staff have reportedly expressed frustration at the extra time development has taken – and the fact GTA6 remains several years away despite being in production “in some form” since 2014.
Rockstar, of course, has the time and the money to make these changes in order to better develop its follow-up to the most lucrative video game of all time. A major new update for the highly-profitable GTA Online went live this week, just days after Rockstar confirmed Red Dead Online had been sidelined.