Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition is real, and it will be out later this year. The trilogy, made up of Grand Theft Auto 3, GTA: Vice City, and GTA: San Andreas, will feature “across-the-board upgrades including graphical improvements and modern gameplay enhancements” in all three games, but Rockstar promised they will also maintain “the classic look and feel” of the original games.
One aspect of the announcement that may prove controversial is that, ahead of the Definitive Edition’s release, Rockstar is going to start removing the original versions of all three games from digital storefronts on October 11. There’s no word about whether existing owners will receive any kind of upgrade offer, but the Rockstar support page says anyone who owns the games will continue to have access to them.
It’s not much to go on at this point, but further details will be revealed “in the coming weeks.” My expectation is that we won’t have to wait for long to find out more. Rockstar noted in the announcement that October marks “a very special anniversary” for Grand Theft Auto 3: Specifically, that’s October 22, the 20th anniversary of GTA3’s release.
Modders have previously undertaken efforts to resurrect the old GTA games, but Take-Two Interactive—the parent company of Rockstar Games—has taken pains to have them shut down. In February it issued a DMCA notice against reverse-engineered source code releases for Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City, and when work on those projects resumed it took the bigger step of filing a lawsuit to stop them, claiming their existence caused “irreparable harm” to the company. The looming release of this trilogy would certainly explain why Take-Two is so eager to clamp down on fan-built updates.
GTA: Vice City and San Andreas are great games, but Grand Theft Auto 3 was the true groundbreaker: The game that took GTA from top-down mayhem to a third-person open world, setting a template for countless games to follow.
“The impact GTA 3 had on the culture and landscape of videogames is almost impossible to measure,” we said in a 2015 retrospective. “Masses of open world games that shamelessly riffed on it were released in its wake. It defined the language and design staples of the genre, and they’re still in use to this day.”
The 20th anniversary celebration of Grand Theft Auto 3 will also see the release of special gear, including commemorative clothing and liveries, in GTA Online, which will be available via in-game events held throughout the fall.