Former Rockstar developer Mike York has explained why GTA 6 isn’t releasing on PC at launch.
After years of waiting, Rockstar gave us our first slice of GTA 6 last week with a new trailer. Soon after, the studio confirmed the game will release sometime in 2025 on both Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5. At the time of writing, there is no word on a PC release window.
According to York, who worked on the likes of GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2 during his time at Rockstar, a PC port of a big AAA games takes longer to come out than console because a studio has to “prioritise what sells”.
“Most of the time, especially in the past, PlayStation was the big seller,” York explained. “PlayStation was ‘The Console’ to have. It sold more copies than any other console for the most part, everybody’s playing PlayStation. So, what the developer would do, they would focus all their energy on making sure the PlayStation port and the PlayStation game worked really good, right?”
York recalled development on GTA 5, stating the team would work simultaneously on the PS3 and Xbox versions. However, the studio was “mainly pushing the PS3 to the limits” as this was the “better hardware” at that particular time.
“So, we put all our energy into that and optimising it the best we can for that console. Then, we kind of port that version to the Xbox kind of simultaneously,” York said.
But, where does that leave PC? According to the developer, the PC version is “in the background… running the two versions and building them”.
York continued: “There’s always a PC version of the game, but it’s not polished and it’s just kind of feeding the other games and making them work.”
The developer said when the studio gets the game to the best it can be on the likes of a PlayStation console and is released to the public, the development team can then turn its attention to the PC port.
“When the developer goes into the PC port process, what they are going to do is they now have new ideas to push things. For instance, they might go into a scene and go ‘ooh, we have it on PC now, we have a little bit more memory. We can add some fog in here like we always wanted to, but it was too much for the console’,” York said.
“They can do a lot of different things like adding in more characters or different stuff, they can populate better foliage, because the PC hardware, depending on what PC you have, is going to be able to run it better.”
York stated a PC version of a big AAA game, such as GTA 6, will need to go through more testing, as the studio will need to account for different variations of PC hardware and their varying components. Unlike on console, multiple graphics cards and configurations are available that require more time to test.
He also referenced PC ports such as Arkham Asylum that got “bashed” on release due to their poor performance. “If they took a little longer and ironed it out and tested it more, tested it against different configurations and different things like that and really pushed things more, then it would have made it out ok,” York reasoned.
“But a lot of times, people are so antsy for the PC port… it’s hard to do that as a developer, because the team isn’t big enough. If they had a huge team, they’d just have one team work on the PC, and one team work on the Xbox, and the whole time they’d be trying to work on all three at the same time. But it just doesn’t work that way.”
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