Not long ago gamers everywhere were put into a state of panic when everyone’s favorite analyst, Michael Patcher, suggested that if EA were to acquire Take 2 it would be in their best interests to delay GTA IV. While gamers were able to get through the first delay of GTA IV given the slew of holiday titles to blissfully pass the time with, a delay through the summer draught of gaming would leave a very dry taste of fear in our mouths. Of course since GTA’s release is so close a delay is comfortably impossible, as the title has already gone gold, but if EA were to get control of Take 2 and the Grand Theft Auto Franchise, a postponement of the most recent title could only be the short term repercussions. We’ve compiled a comprehensive and pessimistic list of the worst things that could happen to our most beloved, and Washington’s most hated game franchise. If Patcher’s words already have you scared, then you better not read on, as these paranoid machinations may induce nightmares.
EA Trax Replace Radio Stations
One of the best parts about any GTA game has always been the soundtrack, with its great licensed music as well has hilarious original radio stations and on-air personalities. The music of GTA has continually set the tone for the time period in any of the titles, and in the case of Vice City is probably better than any 80’s compilation disc you can find. However, EA may think it better to institute their own brand of licensed music with the dreaded EA tracks that everyone tries to turn off when loading up an NHL or Madden game. Speaking of other EA properties, no doubt the company would see that just like real life radio, the air waves permeating Liberty City would also be a great way to keep you informed of whatever other EA products are being released. Talk about killing the mood when you’re cruising around with a hooker in the car.
Capitalizing on Downloadable Content
The Grand Theft Auto games have always featured more accessorizing than the latest Barbie doll lineup, and no doubt EA would see the potential of putting all of these virtual items to good use. Imagine having to pay real dollars for a nice new jacket, sunglasses, shotgun or even in the worst case, cars themselves. For the love of God, the game’s title suggests stealing, not buying! But like it or not, GTA is a prime candidate for downloadable transactions that go far beyond a little episodic content. Given the immense popularity of the series, and the amount of potential merchandise, charging for it would seem like a no brainer in EA’s noggin. Despite their folding at the outcry over purchasing guns in Battlefield: Bad Company, no amount of torrential wailing from gamers could stop them from being tempted to pick such low hanging fruit. And let’s face it; we all know how much they love to do it.
Annually Based Releases
Big franchises seeing release on a yearly basis is becoming one of the hottest trends in the gaming industry. From Rainbow Six Vegas to Guitar Hero, publishers are realizing that gamers have enough cash in their wallet to buy a game for every year. EA is no stranger to this phenomenon given their yearly lineup of sports titles, so what could stop them from desiring an annual GTA game? The release schedule for the GTA franchise has been on average every couple of years. So all those years in between is just more money that could have been made, and the franchise is definitely one that would have the market’s support for a new addition every year. In order for so many GTA games to be released, the choice of cities to set the next game in would have to eventually get slim. Who else is looking forward the GTA: Topeka?
Driving Rockstar Away
When another developer takes the reins of a series, such as with Call of Duty 3 or Guitar Hero 3, the gameplay can remain serviceable, but the lack of that magic touch by the original developer is always felt. Although plenty of developers out there can continue creating clones of gaming’s most popular franchise, no one could ever do the same job that Rockstar does. Take 2 has always been smart enough to just leave the team alone in secluded Scotland and every once in a while check to see if a new game has been slid under the door. But would EA give them the same treatment? The company has not had the cleanest track record for running the developers that they purchase, and in the case of Rockstar, it would be a wise decision to change absolutely nothing. But as journalists like Chris Morris have pointed out, “the more aggressive stance EA takes, the more it runs the risk of causing those people to flee should the deal go through.” Rockstar needs their privacy, and if any developer has earned that right, it’s them.
Giving In To the Man
While we’ve listed a few choice scenarios that would cause our beloved series to lose some of its luster, the previous potential decisions fall under what may be most likely for EA to do, which is take the edgy, controversial nature away from the series. The mass media, mothers everywhere, and that guy named Jack don’t harbor very warm feelings to the franchise or its creators. GTA has given Take Two untold riches, but also caused them some serious legal woes, as was seen in the hot coffee debacle.
So would a company like EA, which may not have a particularly sparkling clean image in the gaming community but certainly does outside of it, be willing to take responsibility for such scandalous software? If they don’t would we see a toned down version of GTA without the violence, cursing and sexuality with a “T” rating slapped on every copy onwards? Realistically, GTA could be selling a whole lot more copies if anyone under seventeen could stroll into a GameStop and buy one, so why not take advantage of that market? While some PR problems within the gaming community are one thing, getting criticized from the government and society at large probably isn’t something EA wants, given that they’re an even easier target than Take 2.