GTA 6 studio exec says AI could make game development easier, but "don't expect the price tags to go down"

Games like GTA
(Image credit: Rockstar)

Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto 6 is on the way, and there's a lot of anticipation to see just how much of an upgrade the next game will be from the long-running GTA V. But as game development costs continue to grow, the current owners of Rockstar Games and the GTA franchise have already embraced the possibilities of generative AI technology as a potential boon for game dev, especially for games on the scale of GTA 6.

During a recent earnings call for Take-Two Interactive investors, CEO Strauss Zelnick spoke about the upcoming GTA 6, stating that current AI tech could make developing large-scale games like GTA much easier -- but not without a cost.

"We've been in the AI business since the dawn of this industry," said the Take-Two CEO during the Investor meeting. "Our entertainment properties are created largely in and by computers. We value tools. We create those tools internally, and we license tools as well. The new developments in AI are really exciting, and I've said publicly and repeatedly that I believe that they'll help create efficiency. 

"In certain instances, they'll help us do things we haven't been able to do before. But it's going to allow that for our competitors as well. So I think the toolsets that come out of these recent developments will be commoditized quickly, and the efficiency that we see, others will see."

The topic of AI development has been incredibly controversial, and with good reason. AI technology enables developers to create assets and content quicker than through traditional means, but not necessarily better or within ethical means (such as copyright infringement). While supporters of the tech might argue that generative AI would handle the more tedious and time-consuming work, enabling human developers to focus on more intricate and larger concepts, critics have stated that AI will, regardless of intent, replace real workers actively and displace many within an already unstable job field.

Zelnick spoke further on this topic during the investor meeting, and while he believes that AI content creation is here to stay, he states it won't necessarily lead to better and cheaper games and that "creative people" are still needed.

"Do I think that generative AI is going to make hit games? No. Do I think that the need for creative people will go away? Absolutely not. I think if anything, better toolsets just raise the bar," said Zelnick. "They give us the opportunity to do more and do better. The changes will be - menial work will probably be reduced or eliminated; high-level work will be enhanced in importance. You'll see shifts in what we can do with our games ... That's our story, our strategy is to be the most creative, the most innovative, and the most efficient company in the business, and I think AI probably ticks all three boxes. But don't expect the price tags to go down. Just expect everything to get better, and competition probably to become more intense for people who are not able to avail themselves of the resources that we can afford."

Following the highly publicized GTA 6 leaks from 2022, it was revealed that GTA 6 is poised to be a massive step up from GTAV, which is not only still one of the most popular games today, but in its 10 years out in the wild, it's become the best-selling video game of all time. GTA 6 will likely be a massive upgrade over the previous installment with its new visuals, gameplay, and scope - and evidently, for better or worse, the latest AI technology will have a hand in building the game's world.

For now, it remains to be seen just how GTA 6 will turn out and the full extent to which AI technology will be used for the game's development, which will likely be Rockstar Games' most ambitious and expensive undertaking in its history. But we'll have our first opportunity to see the game in action when we get our big GTA 6 reveal in December.

For more on what's coming in next year, check out our roundup of games coming in 2024.

Alessandro Fillari

Alessandro is a freelance writer and editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area who has covered the games, tech, and entertainment industries for more than 13 years. Having previously worked at GameSpot, CNET, and various other outlets writing features and coordinating event coverage, Alessandro enjoys playing games on PC, but also gives plenty of time to his Nintendo Switch. You can find him on various socials at @afillari.