It's been a long time since we've heard from Rockstar Games about their supposedly upcoming stealth game, Agent. This is an unusual situation, for Rockstar is not a company known for talking about upcoming titles without having already established a clear vision for that project moving forward, typically accompanying new announcements with cinematic gameplay trailers showing off their game's world, characters, and themes. Agent, however, has had a different developmental cycle.
First announced as an untitled project in 2007, by Sony during their E3 presentation, the beginnings of Agent actually stem all the way back to 2003, when the first inception of the game was created by Rockstar San Diego and intended as an Xbox and PlayStation 2 title. During that 2007 press conference, however, Sony revealed the game to the world as an upcoming PS3 exclusive and only stated that they were happy to partner with Rockstar on their "next great franchise." Fans would have to wait two more years to find out the name of that franchise, Agent, announced at E3 2009 by Rockstar head Sam Houser, who said that Agent was a game that the company has been "wanting to make for some time."
In September 2009, Rockstar Games posted a Q&A on their website and their response about an Agent question was cryptic, stating that they doubted any news of the game would come that year but assuring that Agent was "shaping up to be truly spectacular." A year later, Rockstar confirmed that the game was still planned as a PS3 exclusive, but then at E3 2011, then-current Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton stated that the PlayStation exclusivity of the game was up to Rockstar, which is unusual after previously public statements to the contrary. Also in 2011, a series of photos (below) were posted on VG247, and stand as some of the only in-game screenshots that solidify proof of Agent's existence.
The photos were discovered on the profile of a Rockstar North environmental artist and purported to be representative of Agent's 2009 iteration. According to Polygon, in early 2019, Agent was to be an open world spy game in the same vein as James Bond and The Professionals, a British crime show that was a favorite among Sam and Dan Houser. The project was initially given to the newly purchased Angel Studios, renamed Rockstar San Diego, and while the studio resented the forced crunch that Rockstar has been recently under fire for, they delivered a demo so good that the Housers gave them the go-ahead to move into full production. However, their version of Agent would eventually be scrapped and the engine reused for another, more well known project: Red Dead Redemption.
A few other tidbits have surfaced from former designers, which report that two levels, one in Cairo and one serving as a hub in 1970's Washington, D.C., were created for Agent. Rumors have bounced around about a tech demo that showed a car turning into a submarine, and multiple sources say that some of Agent's better ideas were changed and inserted into GTA V. With the constant updates of GTA Online and Red Dead Online, as well as the multitude of Bully 2 rumors that keep appearing, it's possible that Agent simply got deconstructed and dispersed among Rockstar's more profitable franchises.
However, there is still an entry for Agent on Rockstar's website, even though they abandoned Agent's trademark last year. The entry promises a 1970s-inspired Cold War espionage story into a paranoid world of counter-intelligence, and also indicates that the player will take part in political assassinations. It's also still listed as a PS3 exclusive. Perhaps ideas from Agent were used as the basis for many of Rockstar's other titles. And perhaps the game just simply wasn't up to par and they cancelled development without telling anyone.