Xbox rejected GTA 3 as an exclusive title as they didn’t believe Rockstar could pull it off
According to a recent documentary on the history of the Xbox, GTA 3 was denied an exclusivity deal by Microsoft in 2001. Instead, Rockstar struck a deal with Sony, and the game went on to become the year's best-selling title, as most gamers are aware.
Despite the odds being stacked against it, Xbox turned out to be a huge success. However, it's intriguing to speculate on a 'what if' scenario in which the GTA 3 deal doesn't fail to materialize.
GTA 3 history: Rockstar was denied an exclusivity deal when Xbox was launched
Power On: The Story of Xbox is a recent six-part documentary series that explores the unseen history of the Xbox console. The third episode, titled Chapter 3: And It Didn't Turn On, investigates how the launch of the esteemed console was almost canceled. GTA fans can watch it on YouTube to learn some exciting facts about GTA 3.
From the 16:23 mark onwards and up to 17:30, viewers can see former Xbox Head of Third-Party Relationships Kevin Bachus state that Rockstar had approached them about GTA 3. Rockstar wanted to transition their 2D game series to 3D and wanted the original Xbox as the first platform.
However, the Xbox board of executives didn't have faith in them and believed that they wouldn't succeed with their plan. Hence, the exclusivity deal was rejected and Rockstar launched GTA 3 as a timed exclusive title on the PlayStation 2 instead.
What happened next is something that most gamers and GTA fans are well aware of. The game sold more than 14.5 million units in 2001 and cemented Rockstar Games' position in the gaming industry. Its record was beaten the next year by its sequel GTA Vice City.
The decision not to accept the deal turned out to be poor for any Xbox executive involved. On the other hand, Sony recognized the game's potential and profited from it greatly. Microsoft's plans to take on the video game industry would have been dashed if it hadn't been for their very own title, Halo: Combat Evolved.
It's difficult to predict what the gaming scene would have been like if GTA 3 had been an Xbox exclusive. Although it would've drawn millions of sales away from Sony, the PS2 already had an excellent selection of games back then. Final Fantasy X, Onimusha: Warlords, Silent Hill 2, Devil May Cry, and Gran Turismo 3 are just a few of the games that spring to mind.