GTA V is putting GTA VI in harm's way. Big time.
Fans are right to be angry: yes, Rockstar has finally gone too far
Sony's PlayStation Showcase went down really well last week, giving PS5 owners many reasons to look forward to 2022 - and many consumers to keep trying to get a PS5... - but there was a single video that threatened to tarnish the entire presentation for a few moments. It was quickly overshadowed by other much-anticipated trailers, that video. But fans do not forget or forgive and, in this particular case, they were absolutely right to not just let go that easily during the next hours and days. That trailer and the video game it belongs to are now under fire. The company that made it simply had it coming.
It's the "enhanced and expanded" GTA V release date trailer, of course.
It's easy to see why this is one of the ugliest situations Rockstar has ever found itself: this video was the step too far that should not have been taken but, truth be told, this goes way back. All the way back to June 2020, in fact, when this "enhanced and expanded" version of Grand Theft Auto V for PS5 and Xbox Series S|X - a game that was first teased in 2011 and was released in 2013 - was unveiled. Well, if by "unveiled" one means a frustratingly generic trailer and a promise for "a range of technical improvements, visual upgrades and performance enhancements" and, oh, "much more", which is something that anyone can make anything of. Naturally.
Since June 2020 it's either been "radio silence" or "bad news" for this GTA V "next-gen" version. No screenshots, no development diary entries, no videos, no press releases. Then, almost a year later, an announcement for a November 11, 2021 release date - and still no details regarding what this PS5/XSX/XSS port will actually offer. But hey, Rockstar was more than willing to inform us that it will happily take our money for an upgrade to the new version from the PS4/Xbox One version (before we even get to know what we're paying for). Then more radio silence and four months later - a few days ago - the trailer included in the PlayStation Showcase announcing that this "enhanced and expanded" GTA V won't be available in November. It will be out in March 2022 after all.
By March 2022 Grand Theft Auto V will be an almost ten-year-old game. Phenomenon or not, this is not an entertainment product to be taken seriously anymore: its PlayStation Showcase video was so lackluster, so pedestrian, so unimpressive, that one simply can't see how Rockstar is seriously hoping to sell this as an upgraded version, let alone one built for systems as powerful as the PS5 or the Xbox Series X. This disappointed people the most, yes, but the four-month delay was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Fans made themselves quite clear about it too: the day this piece was published the GTA V PlayStation Showcase video had four times more "Dislikes" than "Likes" in Rockstar's official YouTube channel as well as PlayStation's. Savage memes about the game's irrelevance are all over Twitter, while answers to articles in websites' comments sections or forum threads are scathing. It's obvious to everyone: a game already played to death by hundreds of millions of people for almost a decade does not have the luxury of being released in its third "remastered" form (including the PC version) like this. It does not appear to offer anything truly new compared to its predecessors, it's not impressive on a technical level and it's coming out terribly late. We don't have time for this crap, Rockstar. Simple as that.
What the company does not seem to understand is that this charade regarding the "enhanced and expanded" GTA V is not seen in isolation. Rockstar now comes across as the kind of publisher who not only will milk a cow to death, but it will do so with total disregard for the consumer fanbase it has built around a product over the years. It has burned through all the goodwill of millions of loyal GTA V gamers - the ones actually interested in another version of the same game, that is - and has angered everyone else who's been waiting for a truly new, truly next-generation Grand Theft Auto since 2015.
Rockstar is currently seen as a company going for yet another cash-grab it does not deserve instead of focusing on delivering what gamers have come to expect of it. This will not be forgotten. Yes, it is Grand Theft Auto we're talking about here - one of the most valuable brand names in the history of gaming - and yes, whenever a sixth GTA is announced people will get excited regardless. But the GTA V remaster saga has finally gone too far and Rockstar will have to pay the price. One way or the other.