Eurogamer has been told by a credible industry source that Realtime Worlds bought the All Points Bulletin licence back from publisher Webzen so that it could try and sell it to Rockstar as GTA Online.
The developer, responsible for Xbox 360 game Crackdown, claims this is the first it's heard of it, and would only reveal that the team resecured the rights to APB to "give themselves some options".
"One of which is to launch it and support it themselves, and the other one is to look for another partner; someone else who may well be interested and have the infrastructure [to support it]," a spokesperson for RTW told Eurogamer.
Realtime Worlds, of course, has strong links with Rockstar, as it was founded in 2002 by developers who worked on the GTA games. Its early 2007 release Crackdown was a free-roaming, stylised, superhero take on GTA principles that won it critical acclaim.
All Points Bulletin, due out on PC and 360 (and possibly PS3), is an urban MMO where players choose between being the criminals or the police trying to stop them.
If it were to become GTA Online, it would be Rockstar's first attempt at a massively-multiplayer game, building on the publisher's experience with online gaming in titles like Table Tennis and GTA IV.
Rockstar has been contacted for comment.