Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick is bullish when it comes to the impact of AI on video games, and recent statements have led to speculation about GTA 6 using AI-powered NPCs.
Rockstar Games has been publishing cutting-edge titles for a long while. The jump from 2D to 3D Grand Theft Auto was stark and brought new audiences to the world of virtual crime. The in-house physics engine used in GTA 4 was cutting edge at the time, and the fact that GTA 5 ran smoothly on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is a testament to the technological prowess of the publishing giant.
That makes it no surprise that the company is looking for new ways to innovate in a way that can potentially stretch a game’s lifespan out to eternity. Rockstar Games is no stranger to interactive NPCs, so Zelnick’s interest in AI NPCs is not a light statement and it could hint at big things for the company and its future games.
What did the Take-Two Interactive CEO say?
Strauss Zeinick has a mostly positive outlook on generative-AI-driven NPCs, calling them “interesting and fun.” Speaking at the Paley International Council Summit, he added that NPC dialog in current games is boring due to the reliance on scripts but says with generative AI, “you could imagine all the NPCs becoming really interesting and fun.”
The CEO doesn’t mention GTA 6 specifically, so any direct association between the game AI NPCs is speculative. Other IPs under the company’s umbrella such as Red Dead and Bully could also benefit from AI-driven NPCs. GTA 6 has generated a lot of excitement among fans with the announcement of an incoming trailer. Players eager to see where the franchise will go next don’t need to wait long, as the trailer is dropping in December.
Take-Two’s quarterly earnings report shows how well Rockstar’s games are working. Red Dead Redemption 2 sold 57 million units, and GTA 5 shifted 190 million copies.
Will GTA 6 have AI NPCs?
It is uncertain and unlikely whether GTA 6 will have AI-powered NPCs, as the technology isn’t mature enough to implement in a big-budget AAA game.
Rockstar has historically experimented with new technology before adding it to mainline Grand Theft Auto games. The Rockstar Advanced Game Engine that powers the physics in Grand Theft Auto 4 was first tested in another game, Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis. The under-the-radar game launched on the Xbox 360 on May 23, 2006, almost two years before GTA 4. It has since been used across GTA 4, GTA 5, and both Red Dead Redemption titles.
The last major Rockstar release was Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018. While there was interactivity with some NPCS in the wild west, it wouldn’t have served this purpose.
It’s hypothetically possible that these AI NPCs could be added over time, particularly if GTA 6 introduces a new version of GTA Online. GTA Online continues to get sizable updates to this day, and could benefit from this.