In case this wasn’t pretty obvious already, the recent announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2 coming in the fall of 2017 has pretty much confirmed that GTA 5 won’t be seeing any further singleplayer content. In the months following the game’s release, Rockstar teased a story expansion, and we’ve been waiting on it since.
While we’re almost sure that a singleplayer DLC for the massively popular game was in fact once genuinely planned, and it probably even got fairly far in development, the sudden and unprecedented success of GTA Online made it seem like a poor business decision, and the project was axed.
There’s a lot going for GTA 5’s story, and there’s no doubt many fans of the series, or even just this one entry, would have gladly paid $10-$15 for an expansion along the lines of The Ballad of Gay Tony or The Lost and Damned. Thing is, sales data shows those two DLCs sold horribly. Rockstar may have taken another swing at singleplayer DLC in the case of 5 due to the game’s overwhelming success.
However, that very success is what led to the presumed death of the story DLC project. The vast vast majority of GTA 5’s players are, like it or not, casuals who fit into the profile of only buying one-two, maybe three games a year, playing primarily on consoles, only buying mainstream titles like CoD, FIFA and, in this case, GTA 5, and tend to focus on multiplayer.
About 75% (a generous estimate) of GTA 5 players wear flatcaps, drink excessive amounts of mountain dew occasionally interchanged with beer and don’t give two turds about the game’s story (in case it wasn’t obvious, this is a hyperbole). They do, however, care a lot about Online, and are willing to buy Shark Cards.
Now, if you look at the resources required to produce your average GTA Online DLC, even one as expansive as Further Adventures in Finance and Felony or Bikers, the cost will be a tiny, tiny fraction of the budget needed to develop a full-blown single-player DLC worth its salt. Rockstar would take a bigger hit if they released a lackluster DLC than if they didn’t release one at all.
When talking about SP DLC, you need a whole lot more voice talent than in an Online DLC, you need a different breed of game mechanics and programming, you need to slot it into the narrative, you need a whole lot more content and we could go on. Rockstar has a much easier time developing DLC for GTA Online.
And the thing that seals the deal: Online DLC is more profitable. If Rockstar made paid singleplayer DLC, a small percentage of players – about 20-25% – would buy it. With such a high budget necessary, and so few sales, the project would be a significant loss. Online DLC, however, is free and required for all GTA Online players.
Everyone experiences the new content. In a competitive multiplayer experience, you’ll generally need the best equipment and vehicles to succeed. Well, in the highly violent world of GTA Online, you pretty much need the best equipment to have fun without being constantly blown up by some kid in a Hydra.
Now, we wrote up a piece about why the reason behind GTA Online’s high prices isn’t necessarily a scheme to sell more Shark Cards, but no one can doubt that incentivizing microtransactions is part of it all. However, this isn’t some evil greedy tactic – Rockstar is using profits from Shark Cards to fund all the free DLC they’ve released, and no doubt the cash comes in handy when developing Red Dead Redemption 2.
Things were looking grim for story DLC from the get-go, but the recent announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2 means that all this time, and in the year leading up to released, there has been and will be a greater strain on manpower and resources at Rockstar’s studios.
So, if you were leading a game development company working on a massive AAA production which is no-doubt eating several hundred thousand dollars, would you pick the route of producing costly story DLC with slim hopes of turning a profit, or would you instead develop a low cost Online DLC which will bring in massive droves of cash by boosting microtransactions?
Another reason why this is pretty much the last nail in GTA 5 singleplayer DLC’s coffin is that the official RDR2 website states that the game is being worked on by teams who developed the original RDR and GTA 5, meaning that the current GTA Online team is much smaller than the dev crew was back in the day (though this was obvious).
In any case, if any of you managed to hold out hope this long, it’s time to toss in the towel. At this point, there is a near 0% chance that GTA 5 will receive any story DLC, as sad as that may be.
Have you already given up on GTA 5 story DLC before, or was it this that prompted you to?
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