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One of the most common complaints regarding Grand theft Auto V is that once Rockstar saw the cash cow it had in GTA Online, it completely abandoned the single-player mode. Indeed, the multiplayer component of GTA V has netted the game maker hundreds of millions in revenue since the game’s launch.
Imran Sarwar, Rockstar's director of design, recently told Game Informer that it was not just about the money. Sarwar explained that the team did initially have content planned for the story mode of GTA V but several things prevented the developers from following through with those plans.
First, there was the next-gen version. It took the team more than a year to port GTA V to newer consoles and then a bit more time to tweak the code, fix bugs and tune graphics. Needless to say, the port to upgraded hardware consumed considerable resources.
Additionally, by the time they had the game satisfactorily polished for next-gen, GTA Online was starting to gain momentum. Seeing the potential for the online aspect of the game, Rockstar decided to focus on it to make it a fun experience for players that had finished the main story. These efforts, of course, ate up even more time and resources.
By the time Rockstar reached the point that GTA Online was living up to expectations, it was high time to start seriously working on Red Dead Redemption 2. Development on RDR2 had been slower than they had wanted and fans were getting restless. It made sense to step up production on the beloved western shooter.
“The combination of these three factors means, for this game, we did not feel single-player expansions were either possible or necessary.”
It all boiled down to matters of priority. Sarwar said that “with GTA V, the single-player game was absolutely massive and very, very complete. It was three games in one.”
They felt that while they did want to expand the story, it ultimately was not necessary. The story was already epic so other things beat it out on the priority list. Sarwar insists that it was not a matter of the company favoring the online model more than single-player stories. In fact, it is just the contrary.
“As a company, we love single-player more than anything, and believe in it absolutely,” he concluded. “For storytelling and a sense of immersion in a world, multiplayer games don’t rival single-player games.”
He added that the team would love to add additional single-player content to games in the future; it just wasn't in the cards for Grand Theft Auto V.