With rumours percolating that we might see GTA 6 as soon as next year, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has been out and about, chatting about Rockstar’s game design philosophy and the approach the studio is taking to its next open-world crime caper. Turns out the goal is just to “seek perfection” and turn out “something you’ve never seen before”. Well, that’s easy then.
Zelnick was discussing Rockstar’s games on an episode of the Good Time Show Podcast, where—among chats about his fitness regime and career—he mentioned the difficulties that developers like Rockstar and Firaxis face when trying to create new entries in popular series like GTA and Civilization.
“That’s a challenge that the folks at Rockstar face every time there’s a new iteration of Grand Theft Auto,” said Zelnick, “it needs to be something you’ve never seen before on the one hand, and it needs to reflect the feeling we have about Grand Theft Auto. That’s a big challenge for the team”.
For Rockstar, the answer to that challenge is at least theoretically straightforward. Zelnick summed up the studio’s philosophy as: “Just seek perfection. Seek nothing short of perfection and we’ll get there”.
I suppose that Bruce Lee-like commitment to improvement is the reason why it’s been a decade since the last GTA game came out, and it’ll assuredly have been more than a decade whenever GTA 6 does finally release. Still, I can’t help but notice that the GTA 6 leaks from last year didn’t exactly look like “something you’ve never seen before” to me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they looked very much like a Grand Theft Auto game.
In another part of the interview, Zelnick said that Take-Two “adopts our hits like they’re part of us … and we take it personally if people screw around with them […] It’s not okay if the creators make a choice that is inconsistent with how we think these hits should be developed”.
That leaves Rockstar in a difficult position when it comes to creating “something you’ve never seen before,” a tension that Zelnick highlighted himself in the interview. I suppose we’ll find out how Rockstar navigated those duelling demands whenever it finishes seeking perfection. Your guess is as good as mine as to when that might be.