Over the last couple of decades, perhaps no other publisher has had the kind of track record as consistently good as Rockstar Games’. While sure there were a couple of misfires that probably haven’t aged all that well in terms of their content – the games themselves are unquestionably of top quality.
Rockstar Games is a force unlike any other in the games industry, in the way that their output (in terms of number of releases) isn’t indicative of the kind of success they have seen. This past decade (2010-2020), Rockstar has put out a sum total of 6 games, with a couple DLCs and expansions.
That looks like a decent number of games, but let’s take into account the number of releases Bethesda has had in the same period – 88. While Rockstar does work very differently from Bethesda, that number is pretty representative of how the studio values quality over everything else.
So much so that, over the years, there have been plenty of titles in the Rockstar Games pipeline that were abandoned. The reasons range from technological limitations to quality concerns, and a lot more. Here, we take a look back at some of the most exciting projects from Rockstar Games that never saw the light of day.
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The most exciting Rockstar Games titles that were never released
Everyone remembers the first time they heard of a little game from Rockstar called “Bully” and how it essentially “GTA’d” the boarding school experience with a fantastic quazi open-world and a ton of mischief to get up to. The game essentially just sold itself on the back of its hilariously outrageous concept – but the game itself had to be good for it to be successful.
Rockstar Games had pretty much nailed the open-world concept, and refined it over the years with GTA. But with Bully – the challenge was to translate the open-ended, freeing nature of the sandbox – but restrict it to the boundaries of a school – while not making it linear.
Rockstar pretty much nailed it with Bully having a fairly large school campus to explore and tons of activities for the player to do and a pretty decently-sized world outside the campus. The heart of the game was the way Rockstar excelled with regards to tone and complexity of gameplay, which was wholly unprecedented.
The game saw decent amounts of success and Bully quickly became one of the most beloved Rockstar Games titles. The game didn’t exactly do Grand Theft Auto numbers, but its success gave enough the publishers enough reason to test the waters with a sequel.
According to rumours, work on a sequel began shortly after the release of the original. Dan Houser had already finished a script for the game by 2008, but the game would then be held in limbo as duties were passed around from one studio after the other.
Shortly after, Red Dead Redemption required more work – which led to the publisher putting work on the sequel on hold. Over the years, many screenshots and assets from Bully 2 have made it onto the internet, but Rockstar remain pretty uncertain regarding the future of the series.
Over the years, Rockstar drastically increased the scale and scope of their games – thus requiring all studios to chip in – essentially ruling out Bully 2 as something that a smaller studio than Rockstar North could work on. The last official word on the sequel came from an interview with Dan Houser in 2013, in which he eluded to Bully 2 being an uncertain project at Rockstar Games currently.
Rockstar Games are a prolific studio, having covered a vast variety of genres over the years – including arcade racing games, sports, and of course – open-world action/adventure. While Grand Theft Auto is easily the most exciting and financially successful IP that the publisher owns – there was another that could’ve given it a run for its money – Agent.
A spy-thriller set in the 60’s, Agent could have been Rockstar’s next big single-player franchise that could compete with the best of them.
Rockstar’s track record of introducing fantastic new IP into the market has been nothing short of excellent. From Grand Theft Auto to Red Dead Redemption and Manhunt, Rockstar are pretty good at fresh and original IPs that take the industry by storm.
The publisher was set to lead the charge on exclusives with a brand-new game exclusive to Sony’s PS3. This wasn’t just an idea on paper, as the game was unveiled on the big stage at E3 2009. Post-Red Dead Redemption (2010), hopes were incredibly high from Agent to be the next big new IP from Rockstar Games.
Studios got to work on the game and the hype surrounding it was growing palpable day after day. With high-ranking executives at Sony and Rockstar throwing around all kinds of hyperbole about Agent.
To this day, the page for Agent is still up on Rockstar’s website, perhaps suggesting that it could be a reality once again down the line. Screenshots from devs became public knowledge in the years since, but it seems like Agent has been abandoned – especially given the pressure on studios with games the scale of GTA 6.
Single-player expansion for Grand Theft Auto V
Rockstar announced their plans for a “Expanded and Enhanced” edition for GTA 5 on next-gen consoles, and fans are not entirely convinced it will be an expansion of any kind for the single-player mode. But back in the day, Rockstar actually contemplated a single-player expansion for the game.
Dataminers were able to uncover a ton of material left over in the game code by Rockstar Games that hinted at a planned expansion. This contained a zombie apocalypse alternate reality, very much in the vain of the Undead Nightmare DLC for Red Dead Redemption.
Alas, with the success of GTA Online, Rockstar put a plug in this, for the time being. The dataminers were able to uncover more details of the expansion such as a DLC episode featuring Trevor and his missions for the IAA after the campaign.
None of this ever came to fruition, but what’s to say that the “Expanded and Enhanced Edition” won’t be facilitating these changes for GTA V.