Why the Grand Theft Auto petition won't accelerate its release to PC

Rockstar Games has always held fast to its release schedules. With the impending launch of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the studio has no reason to change its formula.

Rockstar Games

When Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in April of 2008, it waited roughly seven months to bring the title to PC. Now, as the fifth installment in the series hits store shelves Tuesday , the developer famous for keeping its lips sealed about studio secrets has no reason to change up that formula -- no matter how many signatures the ballooning Change.org petition garners.

The number of fans clamoring for a PC version of GTA V on the petition site stands at nearly 420,000 as of this story's publication. The number of signatures will only keep expanding as the game racks up more impressive reviews to bolster the ever-powerful Metacritic score that many gamers use, often unjustly, to direct their game purchases. GTA V holds the title of second-highest-ever rated game on the review aggregator, behind GTA IV.

But to combat Rockstar's approach to business strategy in as blunt and unforgiving a fashion as a barebones online petition misses the point. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are only two months away from hitting store shelves. A PC version of the game would not only bolster the chances that Rockstar would have to announce release dates for the next-gen console versions of its game sooner than it would like to, but optimizing the title for more graphically capable machines would give gamers looking for the best experience a visual example of why they should wait.

After all, Rockstar wants to first and foremost maximize the sales of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of GTA V, which are estimated to hit $1.4 billion . The company will not say a word until it breezes pass the holiday season, likely having broken sales records in the process. PC gamers are such a small subset of the studio's intended consumer base that it can forgo the market entirely for months in the process of this pursuit.

It's also not as if Rockstar is surprising anyone with this strategy, given that it's done this in the past with GTA IV and San Andreas. The studio employs a console-first, PC-later approach to its flagship series. GTA is a console-oriented series, designed for controllers and meant to be experienced on console hardware. That's the company's priority and it's likely to always be, especially given that Xbox One and PS4 versions will come to market probably before a PC version does.

That doesn't mean the PC community hasn't rallied behind the series when its gotten its hands on it. PC gamers have added fantastic mods to the series, like a Star Wars X-Wing, an entirely fan-made custom Big Foot mission, and a time-traveling DeLorean.

But it is not good business for Rockstar to give in to player demands this early, pure and simple. GTA V is already being called the perfect farewell to the most successful video game console generation in history, and no amount of disgruntled PC fans will keep it from earning that mantle through sales.

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About the author

Nick Statt is a staff writer for CNET. He previously wrote for ReadWrite and was a news associate at the social magazine app Flipboard. He spends a questionable amount of his free time contemplating his relationship with video games while continuously exploring the convergence of tech, science and pop culture.

 

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