On Wednesday, Rockstar Games officially confirmed that—after many years of waiting—the next Grand Theft Auto game will finally be revealed via a trailer in early December. People online are understandably going wild over the news and it marks the end of a bizarre era of endless speculation and hijinks.
Rockstar’s open-world crime simulator, Grand Theft Auto V, launched on Xbox 360 and PS3 back in 2013 (see on Amazon). In the 10 years since its release, it has become one of the best-selling video games in history. And not long after it hit consoles, people began wondering: “When will the next GTA game be announced?” In the past, the time between GTA main installments was often around three to five years. But this time around, it’s been a much longer wait for just the confirmation of the next entry in the series. In that decade of what felt like endless waiting, things got weird, fans grew desperate, and rumors endlessly flooded the web.
The early days of GTA VI rumors
Barely four years after the release of GTA V and its multiplayer component, GTA Online, players were already trolling the community about the missing GTA VI. In 2018, hackers filled GTA Online with fake announcements, purportedly from Rockstar, claiming that GTA VI pre-orders were live and that the game would be released in 2019. That, uh…didn’t happen.
By 2020, desperate fans were looking into the smallest details to try and puzzle out the release date of Grand Theft Auto VI’s trailer or even just when Rockstar would officially confirm the game’s existence. At one point, a random piece of robot artwork on Rockstar Games’ official website became fodder for fan theories. (It turned out to be nothing. That’s the case with 99% of this stuff.)
Fans even tracked down a dirt road in Virginia using coordinates from a GTA Online update trailer and connected it back to GTA VI. According to some the road was shaped similarly to “VI”. I’m not sure this was intentional on Rockstar’s part, but it got the community riled up again as they tried to connect the road to their theories. Perhaps the next GTA game would be set in that part of the country? Or maybe it will be a rural-themed GTA installment? (Based on what we know about GTA VI, none of these theories panned out.)
The online industry built on GTA VI speculation
As time went on, fans became more and more desperate as Rockstar provided very little to quench their desire for GTA VI info. At this point, a cottage industry focused on “GTA VI rumors” had fully formed across social media, YouTube, Reddit, and less reputable news outlets. It led to GTA VI trending online over and over as trolls spread fake rumors that were picked up by fan accounts and then reported on by smaller outlets whose stories got shared on Reddit and YouTube leading to more fan speculation and stories before it all collapsed into a pile of lies and disappointment. And this kept happening for years.
In 2021, one fan—possibly influenced by this neverending cycle of rumors—interrupted an episode of a live TV show and demanded information about Grand Theft Auto VI. The show, host, and network had zero connection to Rockstar Games or Take-Two, but that didn’t stop this fan from begging for answers.
“What I want to know is where the hell is GTA VI,” shouted the man on live TV, “I have been waiting eight years for GTA VI!“
Desperate fans even dug through the remastered and not-so-great GTA Trilogy collection for clues. And they found something: An out-of-place image of a house that appeared to be located in Florida and showed a UFO above it. Now that we know in 2023—based on leaks and reports—that the next main GTA game is likely to be set in Vice City, Florida, it’s possible that this clue was pointing fans in the right direction after all. Even if that’s the case, the track record for community rumors and theories is pretty poor.
The end of a strange, exhausting era
Finally, last year Rockstar Games confirmed that it was making another Grand Theft Auto. Did this stop fan speculation? Not at all! As mentioned already, an industry had formed around GTA speculation and those content creators weren’t going to stop. They still had the chance to squeeze out more rumors about fake trailers and false release dates. And they did just that, pointing to GTA Online shirts as clues and running on stage at the Game Awards to claim…Bill Clinton wants to play GTA VI…?
Then, in September 2022, the first big blow to the GTA VI rumor ecosystem of content creators happened. A massive, unprecedented leak of early Grand Theft Auto VI gameplay hit the internet.
Within hours fans cataloged each clip and began poring over it with microscopes. Some began using the clips to build GTA VI’s map. Others combed through each leaked video for any details about the game’s plot or characters. For the first time in nearly a decade, GTA fans had something real to look at and Take-Two Interactive’s lawyers were unable to stop them. Now that folks knew who the main protagonists were, where the game was set, and a plethora of other details, the industry around GTA IV rumors started to run out of steam.
Before Rockstar’s confirmation of a December trailer release, the last parts of the speculation machine spent the final months of this era predicting and re-predicting when the game would be announced, teased, or officially unveiled. All of these random online predictions were wrong, even a much-hyped October reveal.
And so now, we wait, something the GTA community has gotten good at in the last decade. Come December fans will finally get to see the first official reveal of the next Grand Theft Auto game after a wild decade of speculation, rumors, hoaxes, trolls, and leaks.
Once GTA VI is officially a thing that Rockstar can talk about, a lot of this era will be lost to the ether as people move on and focus on real trailers and screenshots. But I’ll never forget just how weird and desperate millions of GTA fans got when they were forced to wait 10 years for Grand Theft Auto VI.