“It was the pass heard around the industry”: Xbox has Dropped the Ball Since 2001, with Infamous Rejection They Regret to this Day

Rejecting a title like Grand Theft Auto 3 to launch on Xbox would probably the biggest mistake of the company.

xbox, grand theft auto 3


  • Rockstar Games first approached Xbox to land GTA 3 on their platform.
  • Surprisingly Xbox rejected that proposal as the board thought it would be hard for GTA to make a transition from 2D to 3D.
  • GTA 3 became the highest selling game of 2001, selling 14.5 million units.
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Xbox is right now in a pretty bad phase. The highly hailed console company had to shut down four of its internal studios as a cost-cutting measure. The miserable state continues as the company was fined a staggering $13.4 million for infringing patents in two games.


It looks like Xbox’s knack for getting into bad situations is not a recent habit; it carries on from way back in 2001 when the company rejected probably the most popular title of that time to surface on its platform.

Xbox Rejected Grand Theft Auto 3

Grand Theft Auto 3 was supposed to launch on Xbox.
Grand Theft Auto 3 was supposed to launch on Xbox.

Microsoft has a mini-documentary series named Power On: The Story of Xbox, with a total of six episodes that showcase the journey of Xbox. In the third episode of the series, the former Xbox Head of Third Party Relationships, Kevin Bachus, revealed that Rockstar Games originally approached Xbox to land GTA 3 on their console platform.


And astonishingly, the famous development company was left empty-handed. This is what Bachus had to say about that decision:

They felt that it was complicated. They didn’t really understand the interface; they thought that it was based on a game that hadn’t been all that successful. To my surprise, it was rejected.

At that time, Rockstar Games was about to unleash their full potential on a new GTA title, where they wanted to change the whole scenario from 2D to 3D. GTA 2 was a 2D game that only had a viewpoint from above. And GTA 3 was something that was for the change.


However, the idea of GTA 3 getting into Xbox was rejected by a board of Xbox executives. They thought it would be hard for the game to make the transition from 2D to 3D.

Xbox Realized Its Mistake, but They Still Missed Out

Grand Theft Auto 3's huge success made Xbox realise what went wrong for them
Grand Theft Auto 3‘s huge success made Xbox realize what went wrong for them

Microsoft didn’t take long to realize its huge mistake. After Xbox’s rejection, it was time for Sony to wrap up Grand Theft Auto 3 on their PS2, and it went on to make history. This game revolutionized the term “open-world gaming,”  with more possibilities and freedom to complete the game. GTA 3 would go on to sell a staggering 14.5 million units, making it the best game of 2001, as lamented by Bachus in that episode. He also stated that if another legendary title of that franchise, GTA: Vice City, wouldn’t burst into the scene, then GTA 3 was going to rule 2002 again, for sure.

Although Xbox initially rejected the idea of GTA 3 on their platform, after its staggering success, they couldn’t help but rectify this mistake. In the E3 2006 press conference, the former Head of Xbox, Peter Moore, announced that Grand Theft Auto 4 would launch on Xbox 360 on day one. Not only that, the two expansions of GTA 4 had timed exclusivity on Xbox.


Right now, both platforms have a common relationship with Rockstar, so at least the upcoming Grand Theft Auto title is going to land on both.

How do you see this decision by Xbox to ignore a revolutionary title like Grand Theft Auto 3? Let us know in the comment section.


Written by Nilendu Brahma

Articles Published: 94

I'm Nilendu Brahma, a gaming aficionado who's carved a niche in esports and FPS journalism. With stints at GosuGamers and EssentiallySports under my belt, I've honed my craft in delivering top-notch coverage of titles like Call of Duty and Valorant. My passion for gaming traces back to my childhood, fueling my drive to delve deep into the virtual worlds I love. Armed with a Bachelor's in English Literature, I infuse my writing with a unique blend of literary finesse and gaming expertise. Currently, I'm weaving captivating narratives for FandomWire, captivating readers with every word.