GTA 3 Was PlayStation Exclusive Because Microsoft Turned Down The Pitch

Microsoft has made a few mistakes over the years when it comes to their Xbox consoles. In a recent episode of the Power On: The Story of Xbox documentary on YouTube, Xbox employees reveal how Rockstar threw Grand Theft Auto III to Microsoft executives as an Xbox exclusive. They rejected the pitch because they didn’t believe Rockstar was capable of transforming the franchise from 2D to 3D. As a result, GTA 3 became a timed PlayStation 2 exclusive.

The documentary explains how Microsoft was approached by a “small games publisher” who wanted to “dust” one of the 2D games they had made for PC and really invest in the franchise. The story continued:

These new key executives at Xbox who would be reviewing all pitches from publishers and developers said, “I don’t think that game will be able to make the transition from 2D to 3D”. They thought it was complicated, they didn’t really understand the UI, they thought it was based on a game that hadn’t been as successful. To my surprise it was rejected.

That game turned out to be GTA 3. Rockstar then turned to Sony and the game became a PlayStation 2 exclusive in 2001. GTA 3 finally came out on Xbox a year later as part of the Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It sold 14.5 million copies and was the best-selling game of 2001 in the US. It would also have achieved that award the following year had it not been defeated by its successor, GTA Vice City. Suffice it to say, Microsoft regrets the decision.

GTA 3 continues its success even today, recently released as part of the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition. The game was also added to PlayStation Now on December 7, although it will only be available in the service until January 31, 2022.

[Source: Power On: The Story of Xbox]