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When can we expect a PC version of Grand Theft Auto VI?

History suggests PC port could come months or years after planned 2025 console launch.

That "Coming 2025" probably won't apply to any PC version.
Enlarge / That "Coming 2025" probably won't apply to any PC version.

PC players will likely have to wait a bit longer than their console counterparts to play the upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI. In a press release accompanying last night's earlier-than-scheduled trailer launch, Rockstar specifically says it is "proud to announce that Grand Theft Auto VI is coming to PlayStation 5 computer entertainment systems and Xbox Series X|S games and entertainment systems in 2025."

The explicit lack of any immediate PC release plans in that statement shouldn't be a shock to longtime Rockstar Games watchers. Sure, the 2D, top-down Grand Theft Auto actually launched on Windows and MS-DOS(!) a few months before the more popular port to PlayStation in 1998. And the game's 1999 sequel debuted on PlayStation and Windows on the same day.

When it comes to major 3D releases, Rockstar clearly prioritizes console launches over PC ports.
Enlarge / When it comes to major 3D releases, Rockstar clearly prioritizes console launches over PC ports.

Since 2000, though, Rockstar has clearly prioritized its console releases over any PC ports. When one of Rockstar's console games is released on the PC, the port tends to come anywhere from five months to over two full years after the first console release, according to an Ars analysis. Even Grand Theft Auto DLC like "The Lost and the Damned" and "The Ballad of Gay Tony" hit the PC well after their console launches—420 days and 166 days, respectively.

The only exceptions we could find to this trend were the first two Max Payne games, which launched on Windows a few weeks before their console ports in the early '00s. By 2012, though, that trend had flipped for the release of Max Payne 3, which came to PC two weeks after consoles.

Hurry up and wait

When it comes to Grand Theft Auto's PC ports specifically, Rockstar was at least consistent for a while. The first four major 3D GTA releases (including Vice City and San Andreas) all hit PC between 196 and 224 days after their console launch. That remarkably tight six- to eight-month window across multiple releases suggested Rockstar had its PC porting pipeline (and planning) down to something of a science.

The long, jagged journey to a PC release for <em>Grand Theft Auto V.</em>
The long, jagged journey to a PC release for Grand Theft Auto V.
Kyle Orland

Then came Grand Theft Auto V, which took a full 19 months to move from consoles to the PC. That eventual Windows release in April of 2015 came after a host of expected release dates and official delays for the PC version, including one delay that was announced just 14 days before a planned January 27, 2015, release.

The wait for a PC version of GTA V may have been so long in part because Rockstar was more focused on ports to other consoles. The Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game came out in November of 2014, about 14 months after the initial PS3 and Xbox 360 releases. In fact, the PC port was originally supposed to launch on the same day as those "next-gen" console upgrades. But while the new console ports hit their originally announced launch targets, PC players had to wait an additional six months to get their hands on the game.

That kind of cross-generational console porting probably won't be as much of an immediate issue for GTA VI. The PS3 and Xbox 360 were pushing 7 and 8 years old, respectively, when GTA V first launched on those aging consoles. The PS5 and Xbox Series S/X, on the other hand, will only be about 5 years old if GTA VI hits its planned 2025 release.

Of course, there is one other currently unannounced console that might have to factor into those 2025 release plans. Nintendo's long-rumored Switch follow-up is widely expected to launch next year and is also rumored to have significantly more hardware horsepower than the original Switch.

That could mean a halfway decent port of Grand Theft Auto VI could work on the console without the need for the weird streaming solutions or significant graphical downgrades that characterize some current Switch ports. And before you scoff at the outdated notion that a family-friendly Nintendo system might not be a good fit for a Grand Theft Auto game, note that a port of the first three 3D titles in the series hit the Switch in 2021.

For now, though, Nintendo and PC players are left waiting for any official word that Rockstar Games is considering them for the next major Grand Theft Auto release.

Channel Ars Technica