Last night, like I was playing Fortnitethe last season, I jumped in a car to go to an empty part of the map to complete a quest. While driving, I noticed new songs on the in-game radio that I had never heard before. And I realized how good that was, and how much I really hope Rockstar does something similar in their next big Grand Theft Auto game.
Grand Theft Auto the games became famous for their radio soundtracks. Many, myself included, can still list most of the songs featured in games like GTA Vice City And GTA San Andreas. Rockstar has long been in a league of its own when it comes to curating songs for radio stations and gaming clubs, and that has held true until the most recent GTA release, Grand Theft Auto V. And yes, it’s funny that the most “recent” GTA game dates back to 2013. However, unlike previous GTA games, GTA V featured an ever-evolving, always-online multiplayer mode that eventually became its own, bigger thing. So, over the past decade, millions of players have completed missions and checked for new updates in GTA online while listening to (mostly) the same music tracks that were added to the game in 2013. And that’s uh…that’s hard.
On the other hand, in Fortnite, I feel like every time I log on, I hear new music. And often these songs are a mix of oldies and recent hits. For example, one of the last songs from Fall Out Boy, “grief feels goodwas part of the in-game radio that players can listen to in cars while battling. This is not the case in GTA online. Rockstar’s open-world blockbuster has some “new” pop hits that were already a bit old in 2013 and still linger about a decade later. Some of these tracks might even be playing on classic radio stations now. And while I’m okay with having some great 80s and 90s hit songs in your open-world video game, Rockstar’s crime sim radio has long felt static and outdated.
Now, to be clear, I know that Rockstar has, technically, added new music to grand theft auto online over the years. In 2021, the developer added a long list of songs to the game. And in previous updates, new dance music has also been added alongside some radio stations. New songs were also added when GTA online made its leap from Xbox 360 and PS3 to Xbox One and PS4. And yet, these updates are not enough. They happen so rarely, and while the music is cool, most of them aren’t radio hits.
I understand that Rockstar cares a lot about curating songs and creating mood in their games. I really appreciate that, which is why I’m not just suggesting that the studio support Spotify in GTA 6, create a playlist or two and stop. No. I want this classic Rockstar Games music curation to stay. I just also think that in 2023 it’s gotten harder to accept how rockstar is set in stone GTA V radio stations are, and pulling a page from Fortnite might not be such a bad idea.
A possible future for GTA VI and its radios
Imagine a future where, a few weeks later GTA VI spear, you start the game, get in a car, and a song that came out the week before is now playing on the radio. The DJ even mentions it. You tilt your head towards him when you run over pedestrians or whatever and the world seems more alive (except for all the corpses you left on the sidewalk). These new tracks would still be curated by Rockstar, so as not to spoil the wanted vibe, but they would keep the world fresh and make it a little more exciting to come back to again and again.
Of course, over time, it might get weird for the world of GTA VI stay the same as the music evolves and changes.
But that also assumes that Rockstar isn’t going to update and expand Grand Theft Auto VI. As we pointed out previously, Rockstar’s plans for GTA VI may involve a large map that slowly grows and expands over time, a plan the company is putting in place with the aim of reducing the crunch. If that’s what’s going on with GTA VI— a game that starts as one thing and evolves over time — then Fortnite-like radio stations that update frequently with new tracks could be in the charts. And I hope so, because I don’t want to be stuck listening to the same twenty pop songs for another decade.