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No, GTA 6 is not coming in 2019

It’s a hoax, in case that wasn’t obvious

Grand Theft Auto 5 - Trevor firing a submachine gun with flames around him
Flames don’t bother Grand Theft Auto 5’s Trevor.
Rockstar North/Rockstar Games
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Grand Theft Auto 6 is not scheduled for release in 2019, despite the pop-ups that some Grand Theft Auto Online players have been seeing in the game over the past day or so.

The pop-up in question, which says in a purported “Rockstar Message” that “GTA VI” is “coming 2019,” has been reported by numerous players on Reddit and the GTA Online support forums. Many of the reports include screenshots, with some players saying that they saw multiple message pop-ups within a few minutes of each other.

If this didn’t instantly fail the sniff test, consider that all the screenshots come from the PlayStation 3, Windows PC or Xbox 360 versions of GTA Online, where players sometimes use mods (at their own peril, since Rockstar only permits them in the single-player story mode). The general consensus on Reddit seems to be that the pop-up is a result of a hacker exploiting the Rockstar Social Club messaging system. Here’s an example of the message in a screenshot from Rockstar Support user jigglybop:

Grand Theft Auto Online ‘GTA VI Coming 2019’ pop-up Rockstar North/Rockstar Games via jigglybop/Rockstar Support

Rockstar said on Twitter that the pop-up is a “hoax” that originated from a mod, and added that it is “not an official message or statement from Rockstar Games.”

It perhaps goes without saying that it would be exceedingly strange for a video game maker to “leak” the existence and release window of its next game in this way, let alone a publisher as secretive as Rockstar Games for a project as massive as the next Grand Theft Auto title. The company always plays things close to the vest and runs on its own schedule, skipping major events like E3 because it can own the news cycle at any time of year.

Speaking of schedules, Rockstar is currently ramping up for the Oct. 26 release of Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s true that the publisher operated on a one-game-per-year timeline earlier in this decade, with Red Dead Redemption in 2010, L.A. Noire in 2011, Max Payne 3 in 2012 and Grand Theft Auto 5 in 2013. But Rockstar tends to announce its games well in advance of releasing them (often because the company ends up delaying the games).

Nobody would be shocked to hear that GTA 6 is in development. But it would be a big surprise to hear that it’s coming sometime next year, especially since GTA 5 — which is less than three months from its five-year anniversary — continues to rank in the NPD Group’s monthly top 10 list for software sales.