GTA Online Shelved Cops N' Crooks Mode After George Floyd's Murder

Rockstar Games once planned to introduce a mode where players could chase each other as cops and criminals in Grand Theft Auto Online, but abandoned the idea in the wake of the George Floyd murder. The death of the unarmed Floyd at the hands of a group of Minneapolis police officers who knelt on top of his neck for over nine minutes sent shockwaves throughout America during the summer of 2020 and renewed discussions about excessive force and accountability in law enforcement, leading to massive protests across the country.

The ramifications of George Floyd’s murder and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests would impact the video game industry too, with publishers like The Pokémon Company donating large sums of money to the protest movement and major events like the unveiling of the PlayStation 5 being postponed to give activists a chance to spread their message. Games that were being developed at the time of the protests, such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, would include tributes to the Black Lives Matter movement, and it seems that Rockstar Games was also impacted by the social climate following the death of George Floyd when developing features for its ongoing Grand Theft Auto Online MMO.


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Earlier today, Bloomberg posted an in-depth article on how Rockstar Games is changing its workplace culture and approach to content in the wake of a massive staff shakeup, and one of the topics discussed was how the mega-company behind the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises responded to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. During this time, Rockstar was planning to bring Grand Theft Auto 4's “Cops ‘n’ Crooks” mode into GTA Online, which would have had players pair off into teams of police and criminals in a play on the old children’s game “Cops and Robbers.” However, once the news of the George Floyd murder reached the rest of the world and the resulting outcry and protests began, Rockstar senior executives ordered the mode be scrapped due to concerns about how it would be perceived in the wake of increased scrutiny and mistrust of law enforcement. According to insiders familiar with the development of Grand Theft Auto Online, there are currently no plans to bring “Cops ‘n’ Crooks” into the game anytime soon.

Rocksteady Is Reevaluating Its Workplace Culture And Social Messaging

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This development comes forward at a time when Rockstar Games, long known for its satirical approach to storytelling in the Grand Theft Auto series, has announced plans to be more sensitive when it comes to workplace culture and the kinds of messages its games put out. According to the same report that revealed the scrapped GTA Online mode, Rockstar claims it is cutting down on the problematic employee crunch that plagued the development of past titles like Red Dead Redemption. Additionally, Rockstar has promised that future projects will be more inclusive, backing up that claim with the reveal that the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI will feature a female protagonist for the first time in the series.

It seems Rockstar’s efforts to be more sensitive and inclusive in its games go as far back as 2020, when the company canceled its plans to introduce Grand Theft Auto 4's classic Cops 'N' Crooks gameplay mode to Grand Theft Auto Online. While Grand Theft Auto is no stranger to controversy, there is little denying that the visuals of police officers recklessly chasing down targets would have been seen as crass in the face of nationwide protests over excessive force from law enforcement officers - a topic that continues to affect people to this day.