There’s no technical reason Rockstar can give for why a PC version of GTA 6 isn’t arriving with the console release

While the trailer for Grand Theft Auto 6 didn’t exactly launch as expected, the fact that nothing has been said about a PC version is disappointingly normal for Rockstar. It was the same with Red Dead Redemption 2: the game’s official announcement came in October 2016 solely for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. PC gamers had to wait three years to hear the news that they’d get to eventually play the game. 

The thing is, in this day and age, there’s just no good reason for such a delay.

In years past, developers ignored certain platforms because the hardware simply wasn’t up to the task of handling the game or the internals were so marked differently to the main target that the amount of work required to convert the code just wasn’t financially viable.

This simply isn’t the case anymore, as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S are essentially just AMD mini-PCs. The APU that powers those consoles isn’t anywhere near as potent as a PC sporting a Ryzen 7 7800X3D and Radeon RX 7900 XTX combination, but that kind of hardware configuration isn’t common: The bulk of PC gamers have mid-range systems, with a performance not too dissimilar to a PS5 or XBSX.

In terms of programming, while the hardware isn’t exactly the same as a typical gaming PC, Microsoft’s console uses DirectX 12 Ultimate as the API for handling graphics, audio, data streams, and so on. Just like your PC does. Sony uses a proprietary API for its console but any developer that’s familiar with using Vulkan for graphics won’t struggle with it.

Smaller or less experienced teams may run into difficulties or financial constraints in creating a PC port, but Rockstar falls into neither of those categories. It’s been around for 25 years, employs thousands of people, and has multiple studios across the globe. GTA V is one of the best-selling games of all time, and GTA Online provides substantial yearly revenue.

Sometimes, though, a publisher will dismiss releasing a game on a specific platform, or substantially delay it, because the market isn’t big enough. In the case of GTA 5, it does seem to be the case that the number of active players on Steam appears to be a relatively small portion of the total userbase. But that game can be played on a huge variety of systems: PC, PlayStation 3, 4, and 5, and all of the Xbox One and Xbox Series variants, as well as a host of different launchers outside just Steam.

(Image credit: Future)

GTA 6 will be incredibly successful but no publisher is ever going to ignore an opportunity to get a second glut of income.

GTA 6 is being released on just three platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S. As popular as those machines have been, the number of PC gamers out there is not small in comparison to them. I have absolutely no doubt that GTA 6 would top the PC sales charts for months, if it was released alongside the consoles in 2025.

It is worth stating that a lot of the PC ports released this year weren’t great and if 2023 is going to be remembered for one thing, the iffy quality of them stands a good chance of taking the top slot. You could argue that Rockstar might want to avoid those same problems and put off announcing the PC version until it’s happy with the overall quality of the port, but that didn’t exactly go to plan with Red Dead Redemption 2.

Nothing was said about that game for three years after it was first announced for the consoles but when the PC version finally arrived, Rockstar had thrown so much additional graphics malarky at it, RDR2 ran jankier than a one-legged tortoise.

Your next machine

(Image credit: Future)

Best gaming PC: The top pre-built machines.
Best gaming laptop: Great devices for mobile gaming.

Games don’t need to be extra special, sporting the latest rendering technology, to be popular with PC gamers. Just look at Baldur’s Gate 3 to see what I mean. No ray tracing or uber-graphical effects are in play; it’s simply a damn good game.

The truth is the lack of any details about a PC version of GTA 6 has nothing to do with anything technical, but is simply a marketing choice. The one thing that many PC gamers are going to do is mod the heck out of the game, as soon as they can, and GTA 5’s Hot Coffee situation left a lasting impression on Rockstar. It will want to ensure it has as much control as possible over mods, to prevent the same thing from happening again, and not having to deal with any mod controversies or fallout around the main launch is likely very desirable.

And there’s the simple fact that revenue figures will get an extra second bounce, possibly long after the initial torrent of dollars from the console release. GTA 6 will be incredibly successful but no publisher is ever going to ignore an opportunity to get a second glut of income. So while there’s no technical reason why GTA 6 can’t be released on PC and consoles simultaneously, Rockstar’s decision shows it’s still as savvy as ever when it comes to pure business.

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