Midnight Club Deserves Another Chance From Rockstar Games

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Story Highlights
  • Rockstar Games abandoned Midnight Club after 2009.
  • This franchise held a special place among racing games of the early 2000s, combining customization, atmosphere, and arcade racing for a distinct package.
  • The series still holds untapped potential, so it should be considered for a reboot.

When thinking about Rockstar Games, one of the biggest developers in video games right now, one can only think of the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption franchises.

However, Rockstar Games used to be a much more consistent developer just about a decade ago, before the release of GTA 5. Since 2013, the studio has only released GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, which is a bit of a shame considering that the developer was focused on broader experiences in the 2000s.

Midnight Club, a street racing game, was a massive deal in the 2000s, but the franchise hasn’t seen an entry since 2009’s Midnight Club: Los Angeles for the Xbox 360, a console released two generations ago.

Despite the IP’s massive success in sales and critical reception, the series has been neglected for multiple console generations, and almost 15 years later, it’s about time for a new release.

Why it Matters: Max Payne and Bully are just a few examples of the games that Rockstar Games has neglected despite their relevance in the gaming community today.

midnight club LA cover

What Happened To The Midnight Club Franchise

While it is unclear why Rockstar Games would ditch such a successful franchise that sold millions of copies, one could only think that the last of the Midnight Club game, Midnight Club: Lost Angeles, wasn’t received well or didn’t sell much.

Assuming that would be false, consider Midnight Club: Los Angeles sold around 7 million copies. While the sales numbers may seem high, Rockstar Games likely aimed for better figures and decided to focus solely on its more profitable franchises.

By the time Midnight Club: Los Angeles was released, the studio was on the verge of releasing Red Dead Redemption, which has sold 24 million units to date and recently received a remaster for the PS4.

Soon after, GTA 5 completely changed the developer’s focus, with Rockstar Games pivoting to a live-service approach. Recent reports also revealed that Rockstar abandoned several franchises to focus on GTA Online and Red Dead Redemption 2.

One scrapped title was also Midnight Club 5, which disappointed many. Surely, a Midnight Club game could’ve entertained fans until GTA 6’s release.

midnight club 3 gameplay

Midnight Club Needs A Reboot

Unfortunately, the racing genre has only gotten worse these past years, with fewer AAA games released. Major franchises like Need for Speed are suffering from underwhelming releases, and Gran Turismo and Forza Horizon are the only worthy names in the genre right now.

This leaves a massive gap for niche parts of the genre like arcade and street racing. The gaming industry is hardly moving within the racing genre and has constantly been backtracked compared to the other genres.

Truth be told, there isn’t much room for innovation within the racing genre, yet developers are still afraid to take risks. The Midnight Club games were way ahead of their time, and even the same formula with modern features would be successful for another game.

Unmatched customization, thrilling soundtracks, and an atmosphere encapsulating the charm of early 2000s street-racing culture were just a few of the elements that made Midnight Club so special.

With no modern racing game attempting to recreate this vibe, Midnight Club has left a void yet to be filled. This series was constantly innovating and reinventing itself during its short nine-year run, so it was a real shame that Rockstar Games moved on without realizing its potential.

In the modern era, the studio has become famous for its cutting-edge physics and technology. Five years on, Red Dead Redemption 2 remains the pinnacle of open-world games, and this technology could have been put to great use for a new racing game that broke away from the typical style of the genre.

Rockstar already has the blueprint; all it needs is to implement it, but the question is, when? With GTA Online’s tenure ending after GTA 6’s release next year, the developer might focus on other franchises.

Max Payne is set to receive remakes, but this project has been outsourced to Remedy Entertainment. With all said and done, there still exists a chance for the studio’s abandoned racing IP.

While GTA 6 is the center of attention for now, the studio’s release schedule will open up next year once the game finally ships. However, even if Midnight Club were to make a comeback, it’s evident that Rockstar Games would outsource the project.

The developer would continue focusing on GTA 6, supporting the game’s online component and focusing on the development of a PC port, which will ship in 2026 or beyond.

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