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How Xbox rejected Rockstar Games' GTA III pitch

Published: 11:58, 13 December 2021
GTA III screenshot showing the main protagonist

When Microsoft were about to launch the original Xbox console, Rockstar Games approached them with a pitch for GTA III but the Xbox executives rejected the proposal. 

A brand new documentary series about the Xbox division has revealed some pretty fascinating stuff about the creation of Xbox consoles and first days of Microsoft's talks with many developers and publishers who were interested to bring their games to the new system.

One of the publishers who pitched their game to Xbox were Rockstar Games, a studio, at that time had published two GTA games that didn't really set the world on fire. When Microsoft were listening to the different ideas from developers all around the world, Rockstar came in with their GTA III pitch. 

According to Kevin Bachus who was leading Xbox's 3rd party relations at that time, they were presenting an idea from Rockstar to the executives who were not quite impressed by what they've seen.

"One day we presented an idea from a small game publisher that come to us and said 'hey, we want to dust off one of the 2D games that we have done for PC. We're gonna really invest into it and think it will be really exciting,Bachus reveals.

And these newly important executives at Xbox would review all the pitches from publishers and developers. They've said: 'I don't think that game would be able to make the transition from 2D to 3D',added Drew Angeloff, member of Advance Tech Group at Xbox.  

The Xbox executives felt that the game was too complicated, they did not understand the user interface and felt that the game itself is based on a title that was not that successful. "To my surprise, it was rejected," said Kevin Bachus. And that game was GTA III. 

Check out the interesting part regarding the GTA III from 16:20 in the video below: 

Rockstar then pitched the idea to Sony and developed the game exclusively for the PlayStation platform, selling over 14 million copies and earning worldwide success. GTA III laid the foundations for the modern Grand Theft Auto franchise, which is now one of the world's most popular game series, if not the most popular. 

GTA III was ultimately ported to Xbox two years after the initial launch on PlayStation. 

All in all, it's quite the story and we wonder, what would happen if Xbox executives said 'yes' to GTA III. Perhaps Rockstar would now be part of Xbox Game Studios and the GTA franchise would be exclusively on Xbox. Even though this happened a long time ago, it does still feel like a pretty big miss for Xbox. 

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