Rockstar confirms Vice City was nearly a GTA III update

Rockstar confirms Vice City was nearly a GTA III update
Images via Rockstar Games

Written by 

Tom Chapman


21st Nov 2023 13:05

When it comes to Goliaths of the gaming world, few can come close to Grand Theft Auto. Despite fumbles with the GTA Trilogy, there's a reason GTA V is the most profitable entertainment product of all time, and the GTA 6 announcement is the most-liked gaming tweet of all time.

The automotive adventure has evolved massively from its original top-down form, and for many, GTA peaked when it entered its 3D universe with GTA III. Also including Vice City, San Andreas, and Liberty City Stories, this is held as the golden days of GTA. However, it was nearly a very different story.

Vice City was nearly a GTA III expansion 

GTA 3 Claude swearing
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Picking your favourite GTA is like asking a parent to pick their favourite child - it's nearly impossible. In terms of storytelling, the 3D era had some of the best, introducing us to characters like Tommy Vercetti and Carl "CJ" Johnson. The former is held as one of the greatest gaming characters of all time, but he nearly didn't have his own game. 

As pointed out by Insider Gaming, GTA: Vice City was nearly resigned to being a GTA III expansion before it got too big for its boots. According to former Rockstar North Technical Director Obbe Vermeij, Vice City was too good of a story to leave as a DLC. 

Writing on his blog, Vermeij said, "It was RockStar New York's idea to set the game in the 80s in Miami. Originally it was supposed to be a mission pack to gta3. Only once gta3 did as well as it did and Vice City started to look sufficiently different from gta3 was the decision made to make it a standalone game."

According to Vermeij, this was about six months into the project, meaning it was quite the turnaround to adapt the GTA III expansion into a full-blown game. Thankfully, it paid off, with Vice City being the best-selling game of 2002 and becoming even more popular when it was involved in a number of controversial lawsuits. 

GTA 6 could be a Vice City sequel

GTA Vice City story art
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Vice City's '80s setting is arguably the franchise's best, and as we gear up for GTA 6, it looks like we could be heading back to this fictionalised version of Miami. Cue the neon signs and floral shirts, but with GTA 6 tipped to be set in the present day, it's likely a lot has changed down on the Vice City boardwalk.

There's obvious speculation about Tommy Vercetti's return, with the timelines matching up that we could see an aged version of the Vice City crime kingpin. Sadly, the death of voice actor Ray Liotta makes this a little more unlikely, although we'd love to at least see GTA 6 honour the fan-favourite character.

With GTA 6 poised to be bigger than anything we've seen before, there are rumours of multiple cities and continents, with potential fast travel and a seamless open-world map. Still, Vice City is a locale that keeps coming up repeatedly. Just imagine if the beloved game had remained the DLC it was originally planned as.

Tom Chapman
About the author
Tom Chapman
Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.
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