Rockstar Games are keeping its plans for GTA 6 under wrapns for now but that hasn’t stopped them from making a big Grand Theft Auto announcement this week.

And the GTA 5 Online update being promised during 2020 raises some interesting questions regarding the future of Grand Theft Auto Online and the release of the next GTA game.

While nothing can be assumed about a game that has not been announced, it wouldn’t have been surprising to learn that the GTA 6 release date was set to include a next-gen version of GTA Online.

The Multiplayer mode has grown so popular across PS4, Xbox One and PC that it continues to propel Grand Theft Auto V to the top of the charts years after it was first released.

So it’s fair to say that the ongoing health of GTA Online is of huge importance to Rockstar Games and parent company, Take-Two Interactive.

Plenty of new content has been added to the game since 2014, including new businesses and Heists, but while those new things added new places to visit and explore within GTA Online, they didn’t really change the dynamics of the map.

The GTA Casino has made the biggest change in that area, but again, it’s a new indoor location. It should also be noted that while GTA Online remains a massive endeavour, it has also been limited in scope by the hardware power of the latest PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

However, Rockstar Games has announced something much bigger is coming to the game later this year. Speaking about both GTA Online and Red Dead Online, Rockstar Games confirmed this week:

“With both games playing home to more players than ever before in recent months, we know the community has been awaiting news of any updates for GTA Online and Red Dead Online and we are happy to share that both games will receive exciting new updates in the weeks ahead.

“For Red Dead Online, players can expect a massive new update to arrive Tuesday, July 28th featuring a new Frontier Pursuit that will introduce players to the secrets of naturalism as part of an all-new Role, plus a new Outlaw Pass, tons of community-requested features and fixes, and much more to play and discover in the months to come.

“A summer update to GTA Online is also on the way, offering up a fun mix of diverse new content from the game’s massive array of experiences to enjoy.

“Later this year players can expect more big updates for both games, including some exciting new extensions and augmentations to an existing role in Red Dead Online, and the biggest ever update for GTA Online, featuring our latest take on Heists in an entirely new location.”

So whatever happens, it sounds like a new location is coming to GTA Online that will need to be large enough for Heists to be held there.

This could mean anything from a map extension, to a whole new area you will need to visit, perhaps even a new map.

It could also mean part of the existing map is being redeveloped so that it includes new POIs to visit that aren’t part of the GTA 5 story mode.

And it raises the perfect question for the release of GTA 6 in 2022 or beyond, on PS5 and Xbox Series X.

And that is; Will GTA Online become its own separate platform, not attached to a game in the series? Will Rockstar Games use the map from GTA 6, but allow gamers to transition over without needing to buy GTA 6?

GTA Online’s map hasn’t changed that much but with this new development coming in 2020, there’s a chance that the multiplayer mode could uncouple from the franchise and become its own unique product.

There’s plenty of reasons for Rockstar Games not to do this, as GTA Online being tied to GTA 6 will no doubt propel game sales forever onward.

But with years to go before GTA 6, this might be the time we start to see massive changes made to GTA Online that lead down a more unique path.

And when the PS5 and Xbox Series X fully replace the PS4 and Xbox One, it will give Rockstar Games the perfect opportunity to make GTA Online even bigger and better.