Leaks, FBI investigations and YouTube conspiracies: The trailer for Grand Theft Auto VI has dropped

After more than a decade of speculation, our first official glimpse of Grand Theft Auto VI is here.

The trailer for the next instalment of the best-selling video game franchise was shared by developer Rockstar Games a day earlier than planned, due to a leak. It confirms the game will be released in 2025, on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

Featuring gameplay footage, it also confirms long-standing rumours that GTAVI will be set in Vice City, the series’ take on Miami, Florida, and has a female protagonist — a first for the series. The trailer sees Lucia and a male partner on a Bonnie and Clyde-esque crime spree captured via social media live-streams.

If you’re not a gamer, it can be hard to understand the magnitude of the announcement. But it has been more than a decade since Grand Theft Auto V was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013 – an exorbitant wait, especially with other blockbuster gaming franchises like Call of Duty, Super Mario and Final Fantasy averaging a new release every two or three years.

In that time, fans have filled the time with immense hype and speculation. The road to GTAVI has been windy, filled with conspiracies, leaks, company overhauls and an FBI investigation — just about as dramatic as the series itself.

That realism has made GTA one of the most controversial video game series, criticised repeatedly for glamorising violence and criminal activity. In 2014, Target Australia and K-Mart removed GTAV from stores, after more than 40,000 people signed an online petition.

But the series remains incredibly popular and acclaimed: GTAV is regarded as one of the best video games of all time. And after selling more than 190 million titles — thanks to re-releases for the two successive generations of Xbox and PlayStation consoles — it is also the second-highest selling game of all time, too.

This June, Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive revealed that the franchise has generated more than US$8.33 billion revenue in the decade since GTAV’s release.

The endless theories

Fan theorising over GTAVI began shortly after the release of GTAV, when Rockstar North’s then-president confirmed they were throwing around ideas for the next game.

With the company tight-lipped on details, gamers have filled in the blanks themselves with a litany of Reddit threads, YouTube explainers and speculation. Most recently, gamers analysed an image tweeted by Rockstar Games featuring a waning moon, with users trying to ascertain a trailer date by comparing it to 2023’s lunar phases.

“Gamers love to solve puzzles,” says Jun. “There’s a culture of Easter Eggs in games, of decades of developers coding secrets that aren’t part of the main game, but reward discovery and experimentation.”

Some conclusions, whether by design or accident, have proven to be true. It’s unclear whether a beach towel in GTAV reading “I <3 VC” was actively a clue to the game’s Vice City setting, but fans pointed toward this as proof. Jun says Rockstar are particularly “cheeky” when it comes to teasing gamers.

“They’ll put in little clues that don’t confirm anything but are fun to find,” he says.

“In a trailer for GTA Online, random numbers featured that viewers thought were GPS co-ordinates, and when they put them into Google Maps, it was an overhead view of a road in Virginia that looked like the letters VI. And everyone was like ‘GTAVI CONFIRMED’. But it means nothing!”

At the same time, it seems that Rockstar did signpost the GTAVI trailer’s original release date via an in-game T-shirt called “ONEDAYWILLREVEALALL”, added to GTA Online earlier this year.

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