Published on May 14th, 2017 | by gareth2
The GTA 5 Story DLC That Never Was
By Brent Dickens
Not too long after the initial release of Grand Theft Auto V in 2013, Rockstar published its plans for the future of their newly launched blockbuster. Those plans included single player story DLC to be released in 2014. Today, in 2017, we have yet to see any sign of that DLC.
Why did Rockstar line up a story DLC for GTA V and then backpedal on their words without so much as an announcement? The answer to that has many sides. The outset of the chain of events that would lead to the announcement and subsequent cancellation of story DLC was the decision to launch the game’s multiplayer mode, GTA Online, belated. The servers went live a good month after the release of the game, meaning the initial success of the title was attributed to the single player portion alone.
GTAV Story Mode Updates. For those ready to jump back into the story of Grand Theft Auto V, we have big plans for substantial additions in 2014 continuing Michael, Franklin and Trevor’s action, mayhem and unexpected adventures in Southern San Andreas. – Rockstar Newswire
At the time, Rockstar didn’t think GTA Online would become a success. They banked on further single player content to keep the game relevant after launch (along with the GTA series’ much-loved single player cheat codes), much like the expansions for GTA IV did before. They were so sure that Online would be a minor element of the game, in fact, that they opted for a peer-to-peer server structure, which has caused the myriad of hacking issues.
However, GTA Online went on to explode in popularity. Based on the last financial reports provided to investors by Take-Two Interactive, the game has over 8 million unique players on a weekly basis. Over a year ago, the amount of money generated through microtransactions sat at $500 million, and we don’t doubt that it has doubled since. It’s one of the most played and most talked-about online game currently running, and it is showing no signs of slowing down three years after release.
Part of what’s keeping GTA Online so popular and profitable is the constant stream of free updates. Now, if one were to look at what the returns on a larger, single player story DLC are, the reasons for its cancellation is obvious. A story expansion would most certainly be a paid DLC, with a great deal of playable content, voice acting, narrative, new assets and so on. The budget would be pretty large, and the thing with paid DLC is that not a lot of people buy it. Obviously there is a market for these things, since they’re still around, but they’re not a gift that keeps on giving.
On the flipside, DLC for GTA Online is relatively cheap. It requires minimal additional voice work, new assets more or less amount to vehicles, weapons and clothing items only and the bigger updates all add one or two new gameplay elements. They can be made on a budget the fraction of what a single player expansion would cost. Also, they’re free to players, meaning everyone can access the content, meaning everyone has more incentive to purchase microtransactions – and clearly the model works.
At the end of the day, a low-investment, high-reward business model will always triumph over a high-investment, low-mid-reward business model. It’s possible that when GTA Online starts winding down, Rockstar will make a single player expansion for the dedicated and loyal fans still kicking. But at the rate things are going now, GTA 6 will be released before GTA Online starts to slow down. In other words, don’t hold your breath.