Why GTA 6 Is Hurting GTA 5’s Legacy

The wait for GTA 6's release date has cast a shadow over GTA 5 and the rest of the video game industry.

Grand Theft Auto 5
Photo: Rockstar Games

While the latest trailer for GTA 5‘s next-gen port was never going to steal the show from other PlayStation showcase reveals like the Star Wars: KOTOR remake, God of War: Ragnarok, and Spider-Man 2, most people assumed that our first real look at the next GTA 5 re-release would be met with the same level of general enthusiasm that has kept GTA 5 and GTA Online so popular eight years after their release.

Instead…well, let’s just say that you might want to take a look at the dislike to like ratio the latest GTA 5 trailer has received so far on YouTube.

That trailer is currently sitting at 121,000 dislikes compared to 33,000 likes as of the time of this writing, though it’s honestly futile to report the trailer’s exact dislike number considering that it’s constantly rising. Let’s instead say that there’s no indication the number of likes will ever come anywhere close to the number of dislikes.

Why is the trailer getting “dislike bombed?” Well, the comments below the trailer offer a pretty good look into the minds of the dislike crowd, but most people have two common complaints about this next-gen port preview.

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The first involves the quality of the trailer itself and how it either does a poor job of showcasing what is so new and next-gen about this port or does a great job of showcasing what is new and next-gen about this port by revealing that the answer is “not much.” Some say the next-gen version of GTA 5 doesn’t look nearly as good as modded versions of GTA 5 on PC while others note that it doesn’t seem to feature nearly enough new content or even an adequate amount of performance improvements. Basically, a lot of people are confused at the moment regarding why they’re being asked to buy GTA 5 yet again when the next-gen version of the game doesn’t look much different.

To be fair, this is hardly the first time that GTA 5‘s re-releases and Rockstar’s decision to focus on GTA Online updates over single-player DLC have faced fan scrutiny. Indeed, GTA 5 and Skyrim are arguably the most criticized/joked about games ever when it comes to multi-generation rereleases. In a way, the reaction to this trailer is just an extension of that blowback.

However, it’s pretty clear at this point that the overwhelmingly negative reaction to GTA 5‘s next-gen port has much more to do with the fact it isn’t GTA 6.

It’s not going to surprise anyone even vaguely familiar with the popularity of the GTA franchise to learn that people are really excited to play GTA 6, but it might surprise some to learn just how widespread the GTA 6 hype really is. From AEW fans taking “Announce GTA 6signs to live shows to online communities dedicated to turning every single bit of GTA information into some kind of GTA 6 “reveal,” the wait for the next game in this series is clearly starting to reach critical mass. Recently, one fan even sabotaged a game show in order to demand a GTA 6 release date from the Rockstar executives he seemingly assumed were watching.

That’s funny, but the truth of the matter is that GTA 6‘s release date is more than a meme. If anything, it’s a dark cloud that looms over not just the GTA franchise but the entire gaming industry.

It’s nearly impossible to put on a gaming show without social media being flooded with comments from people wondering if GTA 6 is going to be announced and then subsequently registering their disappointment that it wasn’t. Again, the demands for GTA 6 felt like a joke in the first few years after GTA 5‘s release, but eight years on, the mood in the room is becoming much grimmer. People aren’t just joking about wanting a GTA 6 release date; they’re genuinely starting to expect one and are willing to ignore talking about the other great games that will come out between now and GTA 6‘s eventual release just to get their point across. They’re not exactly hijacking those shows, but the “not GTA 6” label is starting to be applied to more games than just the steady stream of GTA 5 updates and re-releases.

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Of course, no game has been as directly impacted by the wait for GTA 6 as GTA 5.

Now, you’re probably wondering if Rockstar cares as much about this trailer’s dislikes as they do about GTA 5‘s record sales numbers and the billions of dollars that GTA Online earns them a year. The answer is “probably not.” That isn’t to say that the negative reactions to this trailer won’t bother some of those who have worked so hard on the game itself but don’t fool yourself into thinking that any of this is going to inspire Rockstar to reveal GTA 6 any quicker.

Yet, the reaction to this trailer does show that while GTA 5 might be one of the most successful and critically acclaimed games of all time, its extended reign as the latest entry in this beloved franchise has ensured that it has now lived long enough to become the villain.

GTA 5 may be an incredible experience (I’ve called it Rockstar’s masterpiece), but it’s nearly impossible to even think about the game now without also thinking of years worth of GTA Online updates that don’t appeal to single-player gamers, three generations of releases, and even the ways that Rockstar’s reliance on GTA 5 has arguably hindered their other games (including Red Dead Online and its much-maligned lack of updates).

The conversation about GTA 5‘s legacy is much more complicated now than it would have been even a few years ago had GTA 6 actually been released, or even just revealed, by now. As you can see in the comments for the latest GTA 5 trailer, fans are not shy about hiding their growing resentment towards eight years of GTA 5 and an ever-growing pile of unanswered GTA 6 questions.

So what can Rockstar do? Well, if GTA 6 was ready to be revealed by now, we imagine they would have revealed it. They could do what Bethesda did when they decided to reveal The Elder Scrolls 6 years before its intended release, but as we’ve learned since that game debuted at E3 2018, showing a much-anticipated game years before its release and then warning people that we’re still years away from playing it won’t necessarily calm the masses and help ensure that upcoming project doesn’t overshadow your other efforts or the efforts of others.

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No, the truth of the matter is that there is no easy way out of this situation at the moment. When GTA 5 is released for next-gen consoles next year, millions of people will use its launch as the latest excuse to ask where GTA 6 is. Even GTA 6‘s release might not end the discourse right away. After all, it’s starting to feel like that game will need to live up to insane levels of hype pretty much out of the gate in order to avoid at least an initial wave of public blowback.

As for GTA 5…well, it will continue to generate incredible profits despite these PR setbacks. Years after GTA 6 is finally released, though, it’s going to be interesting to see whether GTA 5 is ultimately remembered as one of the greatest games of all time or as the game that was in the spotlight for so long that we eventually started to resent it for representing some of the more maligned elements of the modern video game industry that GTA 5 lived long enough to become a member of.