The GTA Online community is in limbo as the hype for GTA 6 grows

Grand Theft Auto Online started as merely a side attraction in Grand Theft Auto 5 before it grew into its own colossal beast. GTA Online has since made billions of dollars and is regularly updated with significant new chapters, including cameos from real-life celebrities like Dr. Dre. The game is now a standalone MMO, serving as a replacement for the single-player DLC chapters that Rockstar used to release. But with Grand Theft Auto 6 on the distant horizon, GTA Online players start to sweat a little.

My friends and I have all been sunk in it for over a decade GTA Online; Personally, I’ve been playing on and off since about 2013. We all started as humble drug dealers, picking up packages on the Southside and making a few hundred dollars at a time. Now we’re all multi-millionaires, driving around in super cars and owning nightclubs, arcades and luxury residential suites. If we want to change the pace, we can raid a casino or a crime lord’s private villa, or choose some missions from our massive underground bunker.

Few live online games have been on the market for so long. For every War frame or World of Warcraftthere are a dozen games that have quietly entered maintenance mode or shut down completely. GTA Online is still being updated.

However, Rockstar hasn’t come close to revealing details about an online game mode for the next game, and we’re still a year away from even the core campaign of Grand Theft Auto 6. (Polygon has reached out to Rockstar for clarification and will update if we receive a response.) As a result, players from both GTA Online and private role-playing servers must to sit, to waitAnd speculate. In some ways it’s an exciting proposition: the leap between the physics and the graphics of GTA 5 And Red Dead Redemption 2 was huge, and presumably we’ll see even more improvements in the next GTA. But the question remains: what happens to all the progress players have currently earned GTA Online?

Image: Rockstar Games

‘I’ve played GTA Online For years, and between Prime unlocks and grinding, I’ve gotten most of the good stuff,” says Norrin, a GTA Online fan I spoke to via Discord. “I’m okay with saying goodbye to businesses and cars, but I’ve spent more time with my online husband than with Michael or Trevor. I want that to mean something.”

A big difference between GTA Online and its competitors is that everything takes place in the state of San Andreas. It has a large map to explore, from the city of Los Santos to the quieter communities of Sandy Shores and Paleto Bay. While other games take the player to new fantasy continents or realms, Rockstar unlocks a larger part of the map for the player as they take over shell companies, real estate, and criminal enterprises. This is the standard life cycle of an MMO character; you start as a small man and eventually become a powerful figure aboard a flying motorcycle with heat-seeking missiles.

Occasionally an MMO ends due to economic or development factors. But GTA Onlineboth standard and custom, is so wildly popular that the lights are still on and content is still coming.

“I’m definitely expecting a wipe, and I don’t really care,” says OneTwoZero, another fan with thousands of hours of playtime. “I’ve cleared my progress before when switching between consoles. I’ve lost progress due to bugs and server issues. To me, the technological improvements we’re going to see with (Grand Theft Auto) 6 surpasses any loss I could suffer.”

A GTA Online player poses with his neat gun, next to a sunset sky with a palm tree and his expensive super car in the background.

Image: Rockstar Games

“I obviously love Rockstar’s map design and world building. I spent hundreds of hours in San Andreas,” Artie, another GTA Online role player, said Polygon. “But for me, the people I play with and the stories we tell are the most important things. I don’t care what happens to the sequel as long as I can keep using it for roleplaying.”

The Grand Theft Auto franchise is always subject to leaks – real and imaginary – which helps create an air of uncertainty around the next game. Even the game’s custom community, which plays outside of Rockstar’s sandbox, has cause for concern. Rockstar Games acquired, the team behind Grand Theft Auto’s most popular mod, in 2023. runs FiveM, a platform that allows players to launch custom role-playing servers curated by community teams for both hobbyists and professionals. gain. Rockstar said at the time that the investment would “help them find new ways to support this incredible community and improve the services they provide to their developers and players.”

“I’m excited about the technical upgrades and what that will mean for the roleplaying game,” says Artie. “I think it will be easier to get people involved in the hobby, and there will be more activities we can set up in the game. But I’m afraid Rockstar charges for access. Do you want to play in a motorcycle club? Pay $15 for the assets. Do you want to start a detective agency? Pay Rockstar to enable it on your server. We’ll all have to restart our stories for Vice City once the FiveM server is ready for that, but I’m afraid there will be a subscription fee or price tag involved.”

The ability to restart is not unprecedented; Rockstar has previously erased player progress while migrating between platforms. Other MMORPGs have suffered resets. Most famous, Final fantasy 14 burned the previous version of the game with a magical apocalypse. But the state of Los Santos is a little more mundane, despite the flying motorcycles and nuclear bunkers, and those kinds of magical solutions are a little harder to pass up. How do you maintain the investment, financial or emotional, that players have put into the game as they are taken into a new installment in the franchise? Rockstar will have to thread the needle next Grand Theft Auto 6 is released, and if it doesn’t happen, a hugely profitable and successful spin-off could be scuttled.

“All I hope is that my husband gets a good send-off,” Norrin says. “After causing so much chaos, he deserves to go down swinging.”