Xbox GTA 3 deal was originally rejected by Microsoft

Grand Theft Auto 3 was originally rejected by Microsoft as game for the Xbox, a new documentary has revealed.

Over the past weekend, Microsoft debuted Power On: The Story of Xbox, a six-part mini documentary series available on YouTube, Roku, and other platforms. In the third episode (opens in new tab) of the series, former Xbox head of third party relationships Kevin Bachus revealed that the company was originally approached by Rockstar about GTA 3.

At the time, Rockstar was making to look the jump from 2D to 3D with the GTA series, and this is ultimately what deterred a board of Xbox executives from accepting their pitch to put GTA 3 on the original Xbox. “They felt that it was complicated,” said Bachus of the group. “They didn’t really understand the interface, they thought that it was based on a game that hadn’t been all that successful. To my surprise, it was rejected.”

Unfortunately for the group of Xbox executives, this would lead Sony to sign Rockstar’s GTA 3 to a timed exclusivity deal on the PS2. Even more unfortunately, GTA 3 would go on to sell 14.5 million units, as recounted by a weary Bachus during the documentary, and would be the top-selling game of 2001 (and it would’ve been the top-selling game of 2002 if not for its own sequel).

It’s a pretty astonishing fact, and a very poor decision for any Xbox executive involved. Then again, hindsight is a 20/20 deal, but it’s clear Sony saw a hell of a lot more potential in GTA 3 from Rockstar than Microsoft and Xbox ever did. If you’re at all interested in the history of Xbox, we’d highly recommend watching the relatively short documentary series, which delves into all sorts of aspects of the console’s history, including the time Microsoft had to shutter Lionhead.

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