GTA 5’s ‘Kick Ass’ Story DLC Scrapped Because GTA Online ‘Was So Much of a Cash Cow’, Ex-Rockstar Dev Claims

A former Rockstar developer has said the company canceled a standalone Grand Theft Auto 5 story DLC because GTA Online emerged as a “cash cow” soon after launch.

Joe Robino, who was a senior camera artist and virtual cinematographer working at Rockstar’s New York office from 2010 to 2016, spoke to the SanInPlay YouTube channel about why this much-rumored GTA 5 story DLC fell by the wayside after GTA 5 came out in September 2013.

“A lot of the team went to do Red Dead Redemption 2 right away and I took on this other project that was a standalone DLC for GTA that never came out and it was kick ass,” Robino revealed.

“That was my thing. I was one of the main editors, camera artists, and on-stage stuff. We split our teams into two. I stayed on GTA Online and then this DLC, which Steven Ogg [the actor who played Trevor Philips] was a very important part of.

“And then some of the team overlapped and went to RDR2 early on, and then we just kind of did this [flipped motion], because when that game got shelved, we spent so much money… a lot of that stuff though did end up making it I believe into later iterations of GTA Online, I think. So it’s not like they wasted it.

“It was really really good. But when GTA Online came out it was so much of a cash cow and people were loving it so much that it was hard to make an argument that a standalone DLC would outcompete that. I think looking back now you could probably do both. But that was a business decision they made. I was a little upset about that.

“That actually was a lot of the reason for me being a little sour at that time. Because I was like yo, WTF guys? This s**t’s awesome. Let’s keep going. Let’s finish this s**t.”

IGN has asked Rockstar for comment.

I was like yo, WTF guys? This shit’s awesome. Let’s keep going. Let’s finish this s**t.

Fans have had snippets of information about GTA 5’s fabled story DLC over the years. Indeed, Steven Ogg has spoken about it and what it would have involved. “Trevor was going to be undercover, he was working with the feds,” Ogg has said. “We did shoot some of that stuff with ‘James Bond Trevor’, where he’s still kind of a f**k-up, but he’s doing his best. Then it just disappeared and they never did it, they never followed up on it.”

GTA dataminers have also discovered a reference to Trevor with a jetpack, which suggests story mode DLC was repurposed into GTA Online, as Robino says. In 2018, Rockstar finally unveiled GTA Online’s Doomsday Heist missions alongside the Thruster, a jetpack that’s still exclusive to the multiplayer mode to this day.

Rockstar is now focused on getting GTA 6 ready for its fall 2025 release window. There are a number of questions fans have of Rockstar’s plans, including whether GTA 6 will, unlike GTA 5, receive story DLC. And what happens to the current version of GTA Online when GTA 6 inevitably introduces its own version?

Meanwhile, in the same interview, Robino discussed the well-documented crunch and secrecy Rockstar staff endured while working on GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2. “We got probably halfway through it [the GTA5 story DLC], and we put a pause on it,” he said. “I was also doing GTA Online at that time, and I was also doing RDR2. We all were. We worked a lot, man. For six or seven years, I was working almost 365 days a year with our team.”

For years, Rockstar had a notorious reputation within the video game industry for brutal crunch in the making of Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead games. However, following the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018 and the shocking stories about the human cost of its development, media reports suggested changes were made to the company’s culture to avoid the same thing happening during the development of GTA 6.

Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at wesley_yinpoole@ign.com or confidentially at wyp100@proton.me.

 

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