Grand Theft Auto 4 did a lot right. Then Grand Theft Auto 5 came along and improved on pretty much every one of those strengths, not to mention fixing the problems and tossing in a few things nobody expected (first-person mode comes to mind). But one area where GTA 4 excelled, but where Grand Theft Auto 5‘s legacy remains to be seen, is in story-based DLC.
Downloadable content is too often trivial, overpriced, or transparently a cash grab, even when it isn’t of the controversial “day one” variety. With Grand Theft Auto 4, Rockstar did DLC right, releasing a pair of episodic packs — The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony — that both expanded and cleverly tied into the core game’s storyline. Since the 2013 release of GTA 5, fans have been eagerly anticipating similar story-based DLC content for the franchise’s latest installment, but so far it hasn’t materialized. So what’s the story? Will fans still be getting the Grand Theft Auto 5 expansions they’ve been hoping for?
Rockstar tends to take their time with this sort of thing, so the fact that there hasn’t been any concrete news on this front isn’t necessarily a troubling sign. However, on Monday news broke that would have caused even the most patient GTA fan to wonder if they were waiting on a pipe dream. As reported by GameSpot, during an earnings call for GTA distributor Take-Two Interactive, an analyst put the question to CEO Strauss Zelnick, asking if the much-ballyhooed story-based DLC content was still in the works. Zeineck’s response was as direct as it was surprising:
No, we haven’t discussed any story-based downloadable content. We did talk about the Heists and they’ve been released.
When the analyst pointed out that the notion of story-based DLC had been tossed around near the launch of the game, Zeineck added, “Uhh, we have different recollections.”
Needless to say, that set off alarm bells with many fans who were worried that Zeineck’s comments were an unofficial nail in the coffin of the GTA 5 expansion packs that many assumed weren’t that far over the horizon at this point. Thankfully, Take-Two soon went into damage-control mode, offering the following statement of clarification:
Strauss misspoke during today’s call, as over a year ago Rockstar Games had said that they were exploring story mode content for Grand Theft Auto V; however, no further information has been released since. As always, we leave it to Rockstar Games to share information about their games when they’re ready.
After the success of the fourth game’s so-called Liberty City Stories, a similar approach for GTA 5 was considered by many to be a given. There have been teases from both the game’s voiceover cast and from Rockstar itself, which was officially name-checking the possibility of story-based DLC at least as late as April 2014. Whatever the state of things right now, it’s clear Rockstar was at least thinking about story-based DLC along the way.
But then again, GTA 5 has had a lot more going on since release than most games. There was the port to current-gen consoles a year after releasing on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and then the PC release only last month. There was the addition of first-person mode, a game-changing feature significant enough to have released as a DLC pack in and of itself, had Rockstar wanted to go that way. And there were the Grand Theft Auto Online Heists, which only arrived this past March. Rockstar’s GTA 5 team certainly hasn’t lacked for things to do.
Even before Take-Two attempted to clarify things, Zelnick’s comments smacked less of an official announcement and more of somebody stumbling over a talking point he hadn’t expected (although he probably should have). It’s certainly possible that Rockstar isn’t planning any GTA 5 story DLC, or that they were but changed their minds at some point, but it seems far more likely that the content is in the pipeline but has, until recently, been less of a priority than other features. Hopefully, now that the PC version and Heists are out in the wild, we’ll finally get further stories starring . E3 is right around the corner, after all.