I can’t wait for Rockstar to come out of hiatus with its first true current-gen game

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Red Dead 3, a new IP, the resurrection of Agent, or even a Grand Theft Auto sequel much sooner than expected – I don’t care what it is, I just want Rockstar back in my gaming life.

The acclaimed developer has, unofficially, been on the first hiatus of its prestigious history since 2013. Since then, it has merely re-released its greatest hit with an overhaul of Grand Theft Auto V – with an astonishing 65 million copies shipped, Rockstar’s most recent game has unequivocally become the fan favourite.

Chatter from Take-Two Interactive suggests Rockstar’s next big thing – we suspect to be Red Dead 3 – will be released during the next fiscal year, beginning April 2017. That would suit Rockstar’s favouritism towards May releases – the month it selected to release Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire and Max Payne 3. However, it would also mean the interval between new Rockstar games will surpass three years.

We’ve never had to twiddle our thumbs for so long. Rockstar fans – and there are millions of them – didn’t realise how good they had it until the annual new releases suddenly stopped. With the halfway mark of this console generation fast approaching (assuming a six year cycle), Rockstar is yet to release a new game for PS4 and Xbox One.

RDRtrio

Since its inception in 1999, the Rockstar Games label has published at least one new game every year up until 2013, with Grand Theft Auto V on PS3 and Xbox 360. Take a look for yourself:

  • 1999: Grand Theft Auto II
  • 2000: Midnight Club: Street Racing, Smuggler’s Run & Wild Metal Country
  • 2001: Grand Theft Auto III, Oni, Max Payne (console) & Smuggler’s Run 2
  • 2002: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, State of Emergency & Smuggler’s Run: Warzones
  • 2003: Midnight Club II, Max Payne 2 & Manhunt
  • 2004: Red Dead Revolver & Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
  • 2005: Midnight Club 3, The Warriors & GTA: Liberty City Stories
  • 2006: Table Tennis, Bully & GTA: Vice City Stories
  • 2007: Manhunt 2
  • 2008: Grand Theft Auto IV & Midnight Club: Los Angeles
  • 2009: GTA: Chinatown Wars & Beaterator (the only year without a new console or PC game)
  • 2010: Red Dead Redemption (reportedly heading to Xbox Games with Gold in June)
  • 2011: L.A. Noire
  • 2012: Max Payne 3
  • 2013: Grand Theft Auto V
  • 2014:
  • 2015:
  • 2016:

I wasn’t surprised when Rockstar didn’t release a new game in 2014, to instead bring GTA V to the current-generation and later PC. It clearly paid dividends. However, I thought there would be something in 2015; and frankly I’m bewildered 2016 is increasingly looking like another desolate year.

We’ve never had to wait like this before.

Of course, the publisher has continued to re-release its retro hits over the past three years, with PS2 classics hitting PS4 and the GTA Trilogy becoming mobile games. But that was always the case, alongside new releases last-gen.

bully

While I wish I could play Red Dead 3 right now, I’m excited for what this delay entering the eighth console generation will mean for Rockstar. It’s had time to learn the hardware with the GTA V port – and that was a technical marvel for the PS3 and Xbox 360 upon retirement.

It’s also had time to rejuvenate. The appeal of Rockstar’s prestigious catalogue is tantalising desire. No one franchise inundates us, so we’re champing at the bit when it’s finally time for a sequel. If we are to get a third Red Dead in 2017, it will be seven years after Redemption for a total of three games in 13 years. I don’t even need to draw the contrast against CoD.

Even GTA, which flirted with becoming an annual franchise on PS2 (three games in four years), hasn’t been exhausted. There was a five-year gap between GTA IV and GTA V, and even if we include the handheld spin-offs it’s only reduced to four years (Chinatown Wars on DS in 2009).

Rockstar deserved the break, but now its loyal following should be repaid for their utmost patience. Something new is going to be announced this year; it just has to be. Whether at E3 or elsewhere to Take-Two’s fancy, I hope it’s more than a Red Dead sequel.

smugglersrun

Don’t get me wrong; I’m desperate for official confirmation. But I want Rockstar to make an exhilarating return with the unexpected, not just the comeback leaks have painted. I need more than one game to be announced in the near future, and as a developer that has never been content to rest on its laurels or become complacent with a single franchise, I would greatly admire a joint announcement of Red Dead + a new IP.

Rockstar has a reputation for underplaying E3, but that’s not entirely true (Peter Moore certainly remembers GTA IV being there). Imagine if Red Dead 3 is announced during the Xbox conference. We’ll be ecstatic – especially if it carries a 2016 release window. Then BAM! It’s followed by an unexpected second Rockstar appearance during the PlayStation conference to announce something else.

Forget the PS4.5 and Xbox One Slim. That would be the ultimate E3 2016.