Grand Theft Auto 5 is still alive as we head out of 2020 and into 2021. Usually, a game focused on online play and aimed at consoles would reach the end of its life cycle within five years, but the fifth edition of Grand Theft Auto isn’t any old game. It’s become a monster, surviving through seasonal releases of new downloadable content and game mode and seemingly delaying the release of Grand Theft Auto 6 more with each passing month. The latest estimates for the release of that game say that it will come out at the very end of 2021. We wouldn’t be surprised to see that shift into 2022 – especially when Rockstar still has big plans for GTA 5, as we’ve found out in the past few days.
One of the largest ‘new’ additions of the world of Grand Theft Auto came in 2018 with the opening of the in-game Diamond Casino, which attracted more controversy than Rockstar initially thought it might. That’s because even though no ‘real’ money can be won or lost at its gaming tables, several countries banned it under the same rules they use to ban online slots websites. Apparently, because players could buy casino chips with real money (although why they’d want to is another matter), the ‘UK slots‘ section of the game had to be assessed using the same laws that govern those online slots websites and their availability (or lack of) in many territories around the world. The fact that you couldn’t even play online slots in the casino was apparently immaterial. It was briefly feared that Rockstar would have to shut the casino almost as soon as they opened it, but they found a way around the issue. Now they’re expanding to include a nightclub – and it will feature real-life DJs playing exclusive sets.
The exciting news first reached the internet this past Monday, 7th December, and came with a few additional details. The club, which will apparently be found directly underneath the Diamond Casino, will be known as the “Music Locker” and is expected to open before the end of December. That means it’ll be welcoming its first guests in the very near future – and possibly even by the time you read this! Every effort has been made to make the club resemble a realistic nightclub, right down to the presence of a bar and a DJ booth, and the first few virtual ‘residencies’ have already been agreed. Germany’s Keinemusik collective will be the very first act to step up to the decks, followed in short order by Moodymann from the USA. As these first few events are expected to be very busy, entry is expected to be limited only to players who already own a VIP or penthouse site within the Diamond already.
While this is the first time that DJs have been invited in to perform as themselves in the Grand Theft Auto world, it’s a logical ‘next step’ for a gaming franchise that has always had a strong connection with music. Since the third edition of the game, the playlist of music for each of the radio stations available in the game world has been carefully selected, and as of the fifth (and current) version, there’s been an individual responsible for making sure that the songs on offer make for the best soundtrack anywhere in gaming. That person is Flying Lotus, who is likely to be invited back to curate tracks for the sixth edition of the game, too. At the moment, he still curates and changes his own in-game radio station regularly.
2020 has – perhaps through necessity – been a huge year for the concept of virtual concerts. In the years immediately prior, we’d already seen Fortnite and Minecraft hosting in-game musical performances to millions of people. This year we’ve seen both platforms host longer ‘live music’ events with bigger-name acts, with a view to creating annual in-game music festivals as events they could sell tickets for. Roblox also got in on the act more recently, hosting rapper Lil Nas X as he performed a short set and debuted his new single ‘Holiday.’ For artists and musicians, virtual concerts represent an opportunity to connect with millions of people at the same time and perhaps reach people who wouldn’t normally listen to their music. For gaming companies, it represents an opportunity to draw in fans of the artists who might not have heard of or played their game before. It’s still a new and developing idea, but it appears to be one that both the music and gaming industries could benefit from if it continues to develop as smoothly as it has thus far.
While Moodymann and Keinemusik will have their own avatars in the new Grand Theft Auto nightclub ad will be performing their music ‘live’ to a degree, there aren’t yet any plans for GTA to host ‘performer on stage’ performances of its own. That’s not to say that Rockstar isn’t open to the idea or that they won’t pursue it if the nightclub proves to be as popular as they hope it might be, but the idea isn’t in the pipeline for now. Perhaps that’s for the best. We can see an obvious problem with the notion of world-famous musicians trying to perform in front of GTA audiences, and most of those problems involve either the performer’s avatar being murdered in cold blood or their tour bus being stolen and crashed into the sea while they’re busy performing!
At the time of writing, we don’t know how long the residencies of Keinemusik or Moodymann will last. We also don’t know who will follow them, although it’s hard to imagine either act wanting to stick around for longer than a week or two. The very fact that Rockstar has introduced this new feature, though, is a sign that there’s still a very long way from winding GTA 5 down. They wouldn’t have invested the money or the programming time involved in coding this new feature if they didn’t plan to get good use out of it. At this point, we’re wondering if GTA 6 is, like the third Ghostbusters movie, an abstract concept that’s always coming but never arrives – but we still expect to see it by 2022 at the latest!
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.