Rockstar Games have always had a tendency to shy away from the spotlight, especially in a time when every other developer seems to be eager to show off their game before launch to no end. Because of this secrecy, one of their projects has turned into a bit of a mystery. This project of theirs was announced by Sony as a PS3 exclusive in 2007, not much information was given at the time of announcement except that it was a spy game set to take place during the Cold War in the 1970s.
Two years later at E3 2009, more information was given. During Sony’s E3 conference, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America at the time Jack Tretton announced the project would be titled Agent. He went on to talk about Sony’s good relationship with Rockstar, but no release date was given. The following September on a Q and A section of Rockstar’s blog, Rockstar claimed Agent could be released sometime in 2010, but still no release date was announced. No more official statements were given by Sony until E3 2011, where Jack Tretton stated that he wasn’t sure if the game would still be a PS3 exclusive, saying that Sony was leaving that matter up to Rockstar Games. He did not specify the reason for the game’s exclusivity deal possibly ending, which only left more questions unanswered. A few months later in August of 2011, the first images of Agent finally surfaced, but not officially from Rockstar. These images came from former Rockstar environmental artist Leigh Donoghue, Donoghue had attached these images of Agent to his online resume. It was thought that perhaps the project was wrapping up due to the fact that it had been a year after Rockstar’s estimated release year, and it was thought the employee was done with his part of the project. But Rockstar did not give a statement on the matter, maintaining their reserved persona.
Later on, more information had surfaced, supporting that Rockstar had possibly left Agent for Grand Theft Auto V. In December 2015, Darren Charles Hatton, former member of the Agent art team revealed screenshots of the game that were reportedly taken between 2009 and 2010. Hatton stated their team was re-assigned to Grand Theft Auto V, and that he wasn’t sure if Agent would ever come out. Grand Theft Auto V began development in 2009, a game made in part by the same branch of Rockstar that was working on Agent, Rockstar North. Hatton’s reassignment points to Agent being indefinitely put on the back burner. These overlapped plans could have possibly caused Rockstar to move other members of the Agent team along with Hatton over to pursue Grand Theft Auto V instead of Agent.
If the exclusivity deal is gone (and from the information from Jack Tretton in 2011, it appears it could be) this means Sony is no longer breathing down Rockstar’s neck in terms of a release date, giving Rockstar all the time in the world to decide what they want to do with Agent. As opposed to Hatton’s statement that the game may never see the light of day, information that has come out points towards Rockstar and parent company Take-Two still having faith in this project. In January of 2016, Take-Two renewed two trademarks they had registered in 2013 for Agent. No official info has been given on the game since, but it shows that they may still be pursuing the project. All these fragments of information do little to help piece together why Agent’s development cycle has been such a long one. Rockstar has had long development cycles in the past, with Red Dead Redemption taking five years to develop, but is Rockstar still working on a game that was announced almost ten years ago? Rockstar does have other development teams that could have taken over development, but with no definite information on what is coming in the future for Rockstar, amateur speculation is all we have for now.