September 17, 2013: the hotly anticipated Grand Theft Auto 5 launches to critical acclaim on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Surely we won’t have to wait long on PC, right? Fast forward a year and a half (and two next-gen console versions) later, and GTA 5 finally got a PC release on April 14, 2015. Rockstar PC ports just seem to get lost in the mail sometimes, and god bless it, none of us have any idea why.
So, place your bets people. Do you think there’ll be a big Steam or Windows logo at the end of that trailer coming on December 5? Even if Grand Theft Auto 6 does launch on PC day and date with consoles, we may not know for sure until we’re closer to release. The results of a hasty PC Gamer internal survey on the matter were as follows:
- It’s comin’: ✅✅✅✅
- Nuh uh: ❌❌❌❌❌❌❌
The nays have it then, but why do we think so? Read on for our arguments for and against hope springing eternal for a prompt PC release of GTA 6.
Yes. The roleplaying community is huge, and on PC. GTA’s RP community is one of the biggest sources of its longevity, and Rockstar would be c-r-a-z-y to deprioritize this aspect of its scene. It’s the #3 game on Twitch this week. This is the thing they should lean into in order for GTA 6 to be another decade-long game.
GTA 5 roleplaying requires a mod to play, so it’s currently a PC-only prospect. I’d go further here, though: I’m going to be surprised if roleplayers don’t have minor characters in GTA 6’s campaign. We’ve seen studios like CD Projekt embrace putting influencers directly in Cyberpunk 2077 as a marketing move.
—Evan Lahti, Global Editor-in-Chief
Yes, Rockstar made a whole PC launcher. Full transparency, I don’t actually believe Rockstar is going to do a simultaneous PC launch. But when they don’t, I’m going to wave at the entire Rockstar Launcher they’re making me use and ask “why?” The launcher arrived in 2019 a couple months before Red Dead Redemption 2 came to PC, a year after the game’s console launch date. That infrastructure definitely doesn’t guarantee a better timeline for GTA 6, but maybe it will at least be less than a year.
—Lauren Morton, Associate Editor
Yes, times have changed. When Red Dead Redemption 2 released in 2018, console exclusives were already old-fashioned, and they’re even crustier now that Microsoft releases all its big Xbox games on PC. Sony still does timed console exclusives, but it didn’t release its games on PC at all previously. With the platform-owners themselves on PC, it just doesn’t make sense to me for a multiplatform developer to snub such an important platform. I think Rockstar will get with the times, despite its reputation as a stubborn old guard game dev.
—Tyler Wilde, Executive Editor
Yes, it’s how you sell to China: There are almost as many PC gamers in China as people overall in the United States—312.4 million in 2018. GamesIndustry.biz, meanwhile, estimates the country’s PS5 install base to be around 1.5 million. The PC’s appeal as an open platform is compounded by the Chinese government’s strict regulation of the content and distribution of videogames.
In addition to the contemporary challenge of getting consoles and games approved for sale in China, home gaming consoles were outright banned until 2015, barring oddities like Nintendo’s iQue devices, so they lack the same cultural penetration they have in the US, Europe, or Japan. What’s more, plenty of savvy PC gamers get around government restrictions on games through VPNs or related “game booster” services.
All of which is to say: unless GTA 6 is coming out on mobile phones, PC is Rockstar’s best bet for success in China. (I still don’t think they’re gonna do it, though.)
—Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor
No, they fear modders. Rockstar has a historically love/hate/hate relationship with modders, dating all the way back to the San Andreas Hot Coffee incident. In 2015, Rockstar banned makers of the popular FiveM multiplayer mod used by the roleplaying community, calling it “an unauthorized alternate multiplayer service that contains code designed to facilitate piracy.” Only recently has the studio began to recognize the importance of its PC community, loosening its grip on multiplayer mods in 2022 and more recently purchasing the company behind FiveM. But I’m not convinced—Rockstar treats its games like sacred experiences to be played as intended, and I think the notion of modders cracking into GTA 6’s innards on day one and switching things around is reason enough for them to space out the PC version.
—Morgan Park, Staff Writer
No, they want you to repurchase the game. According to one estimate I read (though I didn’t see the raw data so take it with a grain of salt), in the neighborhood of about 35% of copies of GTA 5 were sold to people who already owned it. People will buy it at launch on console and then again on PC a couple years later. It’s hard to imagine Rockstar giving up that lucrative strategy.
—Chris Livingston, Senior Editor
No, it would break tradition. It’s just not in their blood. They can’t release on PC day and date with consoles, it’s not Rockstar. I hardly have a horse in this race, but even the only Rockstar game I’ve ever played, Max Payne 3, came out two weeks later on PC.
The situation with the original Red Dead Redemption always mystifies me: just this year, Rockstar started charging people $50 to play a 2010 Xbox 360 game on the Switch and PS4, with still no word on it ever coming to PC in any form. Can we just sit with that for a second? I never want to devolve into console war hysterics, but the Rockstar PC Snub almost feels like an ideological commitment at this point—it’s part of the company’s brand.
Get ready for a wait, baby. Whatever hokey caricature of Ron Desantis that’s oozed into GTA 6 will seem especially dated when you’re only meeting him for the first time after The Elder Scrolls 6 comes out.
—Ted Litchfield, again