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Why Is Every GTA Online Update Getting Smaller?

Grand Theft Auto V has been out for almost a decade now. Ever since the game was first released back in the Fall of 2015, Rockstar has been regularly adding new content to the game for players to enjoy. But lately, it seems like the DLCs and every other update for GTA 5 Online have been getting smaller and smaller.

Many fans are confused about why exactly this is occurring, and are hungry for an explanation. We happen to have several reasons, and in this article, I’m going to explain them to all of you.

Why Are GTA Online Updates Getting Smaller, Explained

So with that introduction done and over with… Let’s jump right into this article that explains why updates feel like they’re getting smaller in GTA Online.

1. Resources are Being Allocated to GTA VI

Got to look to the future of GTA 6.
Image: Rockstar North, Rockstar Games via HGG

The first and most obvious reason why updates seem to be getting smaller is that Rockstar is taking away funding and developers from the GTA Online team and allocating it towards making Grand Theft Auto VI. This is the exact same thing that happened to Red Dead Online. That game has not received a major update since the summer of 2021… which is almost two years ago.

It shouldn’t be a huge stretch to say that something similar is happening with GTA Online. It makes sense from a business standpoint why Rockstar would stop updating Red Dead Online, as it doesn’t make nearly as much money as GTA Online does. Considering just how much money GTA Online makes, outright stopping all updates would be just silly. Instead, taking away some of the funding and developers that update the game makes more sense.

GTA VI is likely approaching the end of its development. So Rockstar is most likely going “all hands on deck” with GTA’s next installment. It’s going to be their GTA game for the next decade. With this in mind, of course, they are going to want to make sure it releases on schedule. And with as few bugs as possible. What this means for GTA Online is less exciting new content updates.

2. Unfeasible to Add Major Updates

Nearly every idea has been spent.
Image: Rockstar North, Rockstar Games via HGG

Considering that there is less funding and less developers being thrown at GTA Online, this leads me to my next explanation for why each update is getting smaller. There just aren’t as many new things Rockstar could reasonably add with the game’s developer size. When the game had more funding, it made sense that developers had the time and resources to add big, game-changing updates to GTA Online.

But since their size and resource pool is so much smaller, that forces them to limit what they can add in order to meet deadlines. Adding a series of short contact missions and one brand-new business (that is already very similar to the MC businesses) is a lot easier to do than releasing an update with a brand-new heist and a map expansion. Keeping this in mind, it makes a lot more sense why we’re getting such small updates after years of really big ones.

Now, don’t think that I’m saying that Rockstar has run out of ideas and that there isn’t anything new they could add to the game. I’m sure that the developers of GTA Online have plenty of ideas for great new updates, and I’m sure they’ve heard our requests for new things to be added (customizable mansions, a map expansion to Liberty City, etc). But considering their more limited budget and development-team size thanks to GTA VI, there’s only so much they can reasonably add.

3. GTA Online Has Reached Its Peak

Hard to go up from here. - Why every GTA Online update is getting smaller.
Image: Rockstar North, Rockstar Games via HGG

GTA Online has been around for a pretty long time. We’ve seen a lot of cool stuff be added to the game: a casino with a customizable penthouse, dozens and dozens of unique weaponized vehicles, and a large variety of different heists. For several years, the DLC updates have consistently stayed sizable, before dropping off big-time after the release of the Contract DLC.

Considering how big some of these updates have gotten, it’s understandable that fans would have very big expectations for future DLCs. Because of this expectation for bigger and more exciting stuff, it can feel all the more disappointing when we get an update that is smaller in scope and doesn’t change much at all about the gameplay loop. If updates like Drug Wars or the Criminal Enterprises DLC came out back in 2014, fans would probably be much more impressed with them.

But after getting the game’s first-ever map expansion, a customizable high-tech submarine, and a massive heist all in the same update… getting only a few contact missions in the game’s winter DLC two years later can feel jarring. So I think it is safe to say that at this point, GTA Online has reached its peak. Unless Rockstar surprises us with a really massive final update to send the game off with a bang… I don’t think we’re ever going to get an update as big as Cayo Perico in GTA V’s online mode.

4. Difficult to Appeal to Both Old & New Players

New players struggle to catch up. - Why every GTA Online update is getting smaller.
Image: Rockstar North, Rockstar Games via HGG

Another reason why updates feel like they’re getting small in GTA Online has to do with the fact that Rockstar needs to design updates with new players in mind. If you’re a veteran of GTA Online and have been playing for a while, it’s understandable that you’d want lots of late-game content to be added to the game. You’ve got lots of money to spend and skills to test, so when DLCs are released that don’t challenge either, it can feel disappointing.

According to an interview Rockstar had with Games Radar, the developers consider it a “challenge” to make content that will “…appeal both to our veteran audience and any new players…” And this makes perfect sense. While there are plenty of veteran GTA Online players, there are also plenty of newbies that need content that is friendly to them. Game development is far from easy. So designing updates that can deliver for both new parties is, as they said, a challenge.

Because of this, Rockstar may try to design updates that will appeal to the newer players. This makes total sense when you look at the Drug Wars DLC. A common complaint I heard about the DLC was that it felt like it should have been released back in 2015. All the update really added was some new contact missions and a new business that was very new-player friendly. Sure we got some other neat stuff in the update, but overall it wasn’t exactly game-changing.

5. Easier & Cheaper to Update Old Content

Easier to update old content than make new stuff. - Why every GTA Online update is getting smaller.
Image: Rockstar North, Rockstar Games via HGG

You may have noticed that there have been a lot more quality-of-life features added to the game with the past few updates. We’ve got things such as the ability to hide phone contacts, for example. And recently Rockstar announced that certain vehicles would be getting buffs and nerfs to their prices. This is a way to make the game’s economy more balanced. Hell, we even got an entire DLC that was based JUST on updating old content (The Criminal Enterprises DLC).

Considering that there is already an abundance of old content in the game, it makes plenty of sense why Rockstar would want to just make updates that focus on updating the old stuff instead of DLCs that add brand-new things. Many of these updates to old content are things fans have been asking for for a long time. This means that it is an easy way to please the fans without spending too much money on development.

And as we’ve already discussed, there just aren’t as many people working on the game now. Quality-of-life updates are an easy type of content to add to the game. Considering that these QoL updates are usually positively received by the community, it makes sense why Rockstar wouldn’t have any trouble with adding “new” content to the game in the form of updates to pre-existing DLCs.

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