Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto VI is one of the most anticipated games ever. Despite the hype, the studio has been incredibly tight-lipped for almost a decade now. But a new report by Bloomberg offers big new details including that the game will feature the series first-ever playable woman protagonist.
According to Bloomberg, GTA VI will star a pair of characters loosely inspired by the infamous robber duo Bonnie and Clyde. The female character will be Latina, and the game’s story will take place in a fictional version of Miami, Florida and its surrounding areas. Rockstar declined to comment.
The last Grand Theft Auto, GTA V, came out back in 2013, and was recently ported to the latest generation of consoles, becoming the second best-selling game ever in the years since. Bloomberg reports that GTA VI has been in development in some shape or form since 2014, but that progress was slower than originally expected due to a range of factors including a new commitment to more sustainable work schedules and some key, high-level departures (Dan Houser, creative director on many previous games, left in 2019).
As a result, the game is now planned to come out sometime before March 2024, though some developers told Bloomberg they are still skeptical that date can be hit. Bloomberg reports the game’s map was originally planned to encompass huge swaths of North and South America, but Rockstar dialed back those ambitions, and instead plans to add more areas and cities post-launch.
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This is reportedly all in keeping with an attempted culture shift at the company. Shortly before the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, Kotaku reported on brutal overtime at the famed studio. There have been allegations of abusive behavior as well, including against former VP of development, Jeronimo Barrera.
Bloomberg reports that in addition to trying to improve working conditions internally, the studio is also trying to be more culturally sensitive, especially since American culture has become, as the article puts it, a parody of itself in modern times. GTA games, parodies of American culture dialed up to 11, have been criticized in the past for their misogynistic treatment of women and offensive jokes that target marginalized communities. A playable female lead is apparently part of trying to address that.
For now, though, it’s worth noting that we may already be seeing some of the changes that come with a “kinder” culture: the next-gen port of GTA V had some transphobic content quietly removed for the re-release. Bloomberg also notes that a police-centric mode called Cops ‘n’ Crooks, first reported by Kotaku, apparently ceased development due to the murder of George Floyd.
Earlier this month, Rockstar announced that its beleaguered Red Dead Online spin-off wouldn’t get anymore big updates as the studio pivots all of its resources to shipping GTA VI. Kotaku reported earlier this month that remasters of GTA IV and the first Red Dead Redemption were also shelved to put more focus on the upcoming blockbuster.