With Grand Theft Auto V, Rockstar broke with the trend of creating additional single-player content for its games. According to the company's director of design, however, it was as much by accident as strategy.
Speaking to Game Informer, Imran Sarwar departed from discussing the enormous success of Grand Theft Auto Online to briefly address the lack of additional content for GTA V's single-player mode.
With GTA IV, Rockstar released two expansion packs, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both of which were praised by critics and fans alike. Similarly, Red Dead Redemption was followed by Undead Nightmare, another critical and commercial hit.
With GTA V, Sarwar said, the absence of similar content was, "not really a conscious decision, it's just what happened." He also added that Rockstar would "love" to return to "single-player add-ons" with future releases.
"As a company we love single-player more than anything, and believe in it absolutely - for storytelling and a sense of immersion in a world, multiplayer games don't rival single-player games," he said.
"With GTA V, the single-player game was absolutely massive and very, very complete. It was three games in one. The next-gen versions took a year of everyone's time to get right, then the online component had a lot of potential, but to come close to realizing that potential also sucked up a lot of resources."
In addition to work on "other games" - including Red Dead Redemption II - these factors created an environment in which expansion content for single-player felt neither "possible [nor] necessary." Sarwar mentioned again the desire to return to the concept in the future, but he noted the "bandwidth issues" that are an inherent outcome of the studio's perfectionism.
"Not everything is always possible, but we still love single-player open-world games more than anything," he said. "I don't think you could make a game like GTA V if you did not like single-player games and trying to expand their possibilities."
The apparent enthusiasm that still exists at Rockstar will go some way to quashing the idea that GTA Online's huge success had removed the incentive to create extra single-player content. The real test will be Red Dead Redemption II, which will launch next year with the memory of Undead Nightmare very much in the minds of its fans.
For those interested in the current health of the single-player game, you can read our interviews with MachineGames' Tommy Tordsson Björk and former Visceral developer Zach Wilson. The short version: it's not as bad as many people think.