The existing versions of Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will be removed from digital storefronts this week, and many fans are conflicted about the move.
As announced when GTA Trilogy: The Definitive Edition was revealed, Rockstar is delisting older versions across all digital stores this week, beginning October 11. The developer hasn’t explained its exact reasoning for the move. At time of writing, the original games are still available on Steam, PlayStation, and Xbox, but it’s not clear for how long. We’ve contacted Rockstar to find out if there’s a specific time the games will be removed from sale.
The decision to remove the original games has sparked a lot of discussion, particularly around the issue of video game preservation. Games, particularly of the legendary status of the GTA series, are as much pieces of history for the medium as they are interactive experiences, and reducing access to them is detrimental to future players’ and developers’ ability to play and learn from them.
Another concern among fans is the order in which all of this is happening. The Definitive Edition versions of the games do not yet have a firm release date, and very few details about their content have been revealed. Many fans are upset at not being able to make a choice between the older versions or the newer ones. While the hope is for better-looking, better-playing games, we currently only have Rockstar’s word to go on.
Another major worry for many fans is how the Definitive Editions will handle licensed music. Previous re-releases of the GTA Trilogy have seen sections of their now-iconic soundtracks removed due to expired licenses and some are worried that the same could happen here, with Rockstar silent on that point. The upshot is that many fans feel forced into buying the older versions, just in case the newer ones don’t meet expectations later this year.
There’s also the very real possibility that the new versions of the games will be significantly more expensive than the older versions. UK retailer Base.com currently lists pre-order RRP at ‘full price’ – i.e. £60 for last-gen versions and £70 for current-gen. It’s not clear whether these are Rockstar’s own recommended pricings (although it tallies with owner Take Two’s views on next-gen pricing) or Base’s own estimates – we’ve contacted Base for comment. If legitimate, many will see delisting older versions as a cynical attempt to get new players to pay far more for the games.
There’s no doubt excitement among the community to see these classic games re-released in new form. But with no update on a release date, or even when we’ll see the Definitive Edition versions for the first time, many fans are taking this last opportunity to buy the older versions. The fact they feel the need to at all is is an issue many feel Rockstar should never have forced them into in the first place.
Correction: This article originally stated that the games would be removed from sale today, October 11. A Rockstar FAQ makes clear that the removal will take place the week beginning October 11.