What is Rockstar’s new billion dollar next-gen game?

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 10:48 GMT By Matt Martin

GTA V has passed $1 billion in sales and developer Rockstar is gearing up to reveal a new game for next-gen consoles. What’s next from the creators of Grand Theft Auto?

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Last night Take-Two confirmed that an unannounced game from Rockstar would be released on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 by the end of March 2015. I know, right?

What are the chances of a new Red Dead compared to the return of Midnight Club, and should we stop speculating right now and accept that it’s going to be an upgraded port of Grand Theft Auto V?

We take a look at the potential of Rockstar’s franchises and when we last saw releases from a developer that is notorious for taking its time.

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Grand Theft Auto V

Last seen: Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360, PS4) – 8 months ago (Sept 2013).

Why: It’s already made $1 billion in sales and sold-in 33 million copies on Xbox 360 and PS3. It prints money as easily as Michael, Franklin and Trevor rob banks. It’s a brilliant game.

Why not: Rockstar may think it’s a little too early to release on next-gen systems, cannibalising perfectly healthy sales on the old consoles. It may have put all its development resources into the Xbox 360/PS3 versions of the game, and the devs are just not ready to shift the game to Xbox One and PS4. Yet.

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GTA Online stand alone

Last seen: GTA Online – 7 months ago (October 2013).

Why: If the full GTA V experience isn’t ready yet, why not spin-off the online component for the time being? The two launched separately on last-gen systems, so why not take a similar approach to this gen with an effectively smaller, digital download-only launch?

Why not: Digital downloads are the future but are they high enough on the Xbox One and PS4 for Rockstar’s parent Take-Two to make enough money back? This is a publisher that likes money, remember, and is patient enough to wait around to make sure the audience is there.

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Red Dead Rebellion

Last seen: Read Dead Redemption – 4 years ago (May 2010), Undead Nightmare – 3 years, 7 months ago (Oct 2010).

Why: The Red Dead series is second only to Grand Theft Auto in Rockstar’s diamond-encrusted portfolio. Rebellion has already been rumoured. The RAGE technology behind Red Dead Redemption was slick – a passable visual upgrade for a new Red Dead wouldn’t cost as much as building something from scratch. No one else has a Wild West franchise that makes money.

Why not: This analyst who suggested a new Red Dead game would be out by the end of the year was probably drunk when he dreamt it up but his idea has snowballed in our collective unconsciousness even though it’s just not ready yet. There were six years between the release of Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption.

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Max Payne 4

Last seen: Max Payne 3 – 2 years ago (May 2012).

Why: Max Payne 3 must have cost an absolute fortune to make. It took NINE years. Why not get some of those costs back by tarting up that famously squinting face and throwing it on next-gen for a quick buck?

Why not: Most of the team who made Max Payne 3 have left Take-Two/Rockstar. To reiterate: Max Payne 3 came out NINE years after the original. No one really cares about Max Payne anymore.

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Bully 2

Last seen: Bully – 6 years, 10 months ago (Oct 2006).

Why: It’s a fanboys dream. Bully was funny. And distinctive. And anarchic in a Beano-meets-GTA way. This trademark.

Why not: It’s too niche. The days of niche are over. Can it make $1 billion? Not on your nelly, grandad. Give up the dream.

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Rockstar Table Tennis 2

Last seen: Rockstar Table Tennis – 5 years, 7 months ago (May 2006).

Why: Rockstar famously tested the Xbox 360 and PS3 markets with a gorgeous, slick, fun and simple sports game. It cost relatively little to make compared to big Rockstar franchises. It sold at a lower retail price than normal games. Rockstar could take the same approach and dip its paddle in the next-gen waters again with a little sequel to test the Xbox and PS4 markets.

Why not: Table Tennis is cute but it’s not going to draw a new crowd to Rockstar Games or the home consoles. Maybe it would have worked better if Kinect was still a viable option for developers (oooh, we went there!).

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Agent

Last seen: Logo and a few words at E3 – 4 years, 11 months ago (June 2009).

Why: It was originally announced as a PlayStation exclusive but there’s no reason to stay loyal to a particular format – that thinking just restricts your sales. Originally said to be a 1970s spy and espionage thriller, the project has been quiet enough that maybe all that time has been spent working on a game that takes lessons from GTA and L.A. Noire and adds stealth and retro style on top.

Why not: Maybe the project has been shrouded in secrecy because it no longer exists. One logo, that’s all we ever saw. One. Logo.

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The Warriors 2

Last seen: The Warriors – 7 years, 7 months ago (Oct 2005).

Why: Because we need an ultra violent third-person beat ‘em up based on an iconic gang movie.

Why not: The Warriors was a vanity project for the Houser brothers who wanted to create a game based on one of their favourite films. That’s like me writing about rap music on a video game site just because I like rap music. It’s not going to happen.

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Midnight Club 5

Last seen: Midnight Club: Los Angeles – 5 years, 7 months ago (October 2008).

Why: Because Rockstar make really good specialist racing games but we forget that with all the guns and explosions and drugs and sex in GTA games. Midnight Club has done well across two console generations, what’s stopping it from blazing across Xbox One and PS4?

Why not: The market for racing games is deflating like a worn tyre. EA has given Need for Speed a year off and shit-canned its original Burnout studio. Games like Forza Horizon are the new posterboy racers that a Midnight Club needs to race for pink slips.

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L.A. Noire 2

Last seen: 3 years ago (May 2011).

Why: Rockstar doesn’t give up on flawed games if there’s still potential. For all of L.A. Noire’s faults it’s still a unique, stylish and visually stunning game. With more work around the detective mechanics, there’s no reason why Cole Phelps couldn’t pick up his badge again.

Why not: The whole Team Bondi situation sure turned into a mess didn’t it? Who knows what legal issues are still ongoing with that company and its clusterfuck development process. Rockstar may be wise just to steer clear.

Remember this though: almost all of Rockstar’s games are delayed from their original release date.

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