Rockstar Games have consistently delivered bona fide cultural phenomena with the GTA franchise, and the run of success the studio has had is virtually unheard of in the gaming community.
Very rarely have Rockstar Games ever put a foot wrong when it comes to the GTA franchise, and this fact has solidified the games' position at the very pinnacle of modern AAA gaming.
The major consensus surrounding Rockstar Games in the community is that they are one of the last few publishers with a 100 per cent track record of great games. Such a reputation is extremely hard to cultivate and is even harder to maintain.
There is no room for complacency for Rockstar Games as they have to keep innovating and pushing the envelope when it comes to the GTA franchise. Therefore, players would naturally assume that the next game in the franchise must be around the corner, especially with a nearly seven-year gap since the last release in the series.
However, there are a lot of things to consider when the subject in question is the next GTA game.
GTA 6: Why does a 2021 release date seem highly unlikely?
The promotion for a GTA game usually begins a year before the game's launch or even further back. The first trailer for GTA 5 had dropped as early as 2011, which means the marketing had begun nearly 2 years before its release.
While a surprise release would work insanely well for the core fanbase, Rockstar Games are probably looking to bring in newer eyes to the franchise. Therefore, the game will be marketed heavily before release, possibly with a couple of years of promotional material.
Therefore, this rules out the possibility of Rockstar Games gearing up for a 2021 release date.
2) GTA 5 on next-gen consoles
Rockstar Games have already announced their plans for the series going forward into the next generation in 2021, with GTA 5's "Enhanced and Expanded" edition set for release on both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. This rules out any possibility for another major release in the same year.
It wouldn't make much financial sense to bring over a game from the current-gen to the next-gen while also having plans for a next-gen title in the works. This is why the prevalent feeling in the gaming community is that GTA 5's re-release is essentially a stop-gap entry going into the next generation.
GTA 6 is potentially still in the very infancy of its development, which is why Rockstar are keeping things under wraps at the moment.
3) GTA Online
GTA Online has been one of the biggest money-makers for Rockstar Games. It is the perfect way for the company to have a more sustainable model as the "games-as-a-service" model has gone on to become the most financially viable way to make games in the current era.
Players aren't satisfied to only receive the game they bought at launch as they also want it to be supported with a steady stream of content. This is beneficial for both fans and Rockstar Games as it allows the publisher to rake in huge bucks and the fanbase to constantly be engaged with new content.
However, it also means that Rockstar Games do not have much incentive to take on a $100 million-plus project when GTA Online alone is bringing in huge money daily.