The "Episodes from Liberty City" expansion for GTA 4 included two extremely well-made DLCs that fans thoroughly enjoyed. GTA 4 was quite a huge game, with a long and enjoyable single-player campaign that saw Niko Belic find his place in the city.
Yet, Rockstar Games felt that Liberty City still had more stories to tell, and boy, were they right. The Lost and Damned chronicled the gritty adventures of the Lost MC and their struggle to survive. The Ballad of Gay Tony was a glitzy, strobe-lit adventure through Liberty City's nightlife.
Single-player expansions used to be an extremely profitable avenue for publishers to explore, as this game mode once reigned supreme. Today, the gaming zeitgeist has been unquestionably taken over by multiplayer games that can generate revenue annually.
The "games as a service" model that players can see with GTA Online is the norm, and Rockstar, being a highly competitive game publisher, must stay with the times. The publisher is in the highly comfortable position of having two unbelievably successful titles, GTA and Red Dead Online, generating massive revenue every year.
So, then, why would Rockstar spend millions of dollars trying to work on an expansion that might never generate the kind of money GTA Online could in a few weeks?
Should Rockstar do an "Episodes from Liberty City" style expansion for GTA 5?
The kind of position Rockstar finds itself in currently sees a certain level of pressure and expectation that the company will deliver bona fide hits with every release. These facts are only bolstered by the continued success of each subsequent title.
Their last release, Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, is still discussed as one of the finest single-player experiences to enjoy in 2021. Thus, the Rockstar logo is a brand of excellence, and any game that has one on its box has to be a stone-cold hit.
Simply put, Rockstar cannot slap its logo on a mediocre title and still expect to be at the pinnacle of AAA game development. Thus, a DLC expansion for GTA 5's story mode must simply blow players away, or it simply isn't worth either the player's or the publisher's time and money.
As it stands, Rockstar's focus is either on evolving GTA and Red Dead Online or a potential sequel in the GTA franchise. Both of which are immeasurably taxing on the studio.
Not only that, but the studio is also working on GTA 5's Expanded and Enhanced Edition, scheduled for 2021. Piling on a substantially sizeable single-player DLC on top is enough to send a studio into complete meltdown, even if it is as large as the New York City-based organization.
There already is an expansion
The argument can be made, and quite strongly, that GTA Online is the single-player expansion players have been asking for. Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick, while discussing the Cayo Perico Heist's success as a single-player experience, himself commented on the great value of single-player games.
This view sparked a lot of hope within the community that Rockstar might not be too averse to the idea of single-player expansion. This is because players still respond quite positively to single-player experiences in typically online multiplayer games.
So if the Cayo Perico Heist was a dry-run to test out the waters, then the signs are looking good. Grand Theft Auto Online has steadily been doing a fine job of continuing the narrative post-story mode and has even shed light on the fates of characters post the event of the game.
Thus, it only makes sense for Rockstar to continue this kind of expansion on story mode with GTA Online DLC instead of working on an entirely new project.