In a new Grand Theft Auto Online interview with CVG, Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies said GTA Online could have launched at the same time as the main game, but that the studio considers it to be "a different entity, a separate thing".
He explained: "It'll be GTA Online; it's not part of GTA 5. Obviously it's set in the GTA 5 engine, but it's going to grow and evolve into its own thing." Access to GTA Online will come for free with every retail copy of GTA 5.
Benzies went on to discuss plans to release a comprehensive set of creator tools for GTA Online, although he said Rockstar doesn't want to overwhelm users at launch.
"Initially, you'll be able to create races and deathmatches, which are probably the simplest. And then, over time, when we feel comfortable that people are ready to get the new creators, they will be released. So it'll be a trickle, but it'll be a constant release of new creators and new content. We don't want to overdo it. It's a complex system.
"That's another reason for the two week delay between single-player and Online. We want to give people an opportunity to actually get their heads around what's happened, because even single-player is a big advancement from the old games. There's a lot of new things to learn."
GTA Online will be accessible through a fourth character on GTA 5's character Switch Wheel, which will become available after two weeks.
"When it launches, you'll have an extra character on your Switch Wheel. Instead of choosing Franklin, Michael or Trevor, you'll select your multiplayer character and you'll be sucked straight in there," Benzies explained.
GTA Online may arrive in the form of "a tiny download", he added, "but it'll just be a code. We've just got to figure out how that will work with Sony and Microsoft."