Netflix lands its first big-name games with Grand Theft Auto trilogy

Enlarge / The enhanced edition trilogy includes Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

Rockstar Games

Netflix subscribers will be able to play the three original 3D Grand Theft Auto games on iOS and Android starting in December, according to a blog post from the streamer.

The titles included are 2001’s Grand Theft Auto III, 2002’s Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

All three released initially on the PS2 and Xbox. The first 3D entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto III, was a crossover cultural sensation when it debuted, and it is credited as one of the main originators of the open-world genre, which remains one of the most popular genres in triple-A games to this day.

The franchise has also maintained its resonance over time. Despite releasing a decade ago, Grand Theft Auto V remains one of the best-selling and most-played games on numerous platforms, and the mere announcement that a first trailer would be released soon for Grand Theft Auto VI made huge waves a few weeks ago.

Netflix’s announcement doesn’t detail what’s different about these releases from the previous mobile ports of the three games, which were made by the same studio that went on to produce the enhanced editions for consoles and PCs.

It’s worth mentioning that the Enhanced Editions on those platforms were divisive among fans of the series. The performance of those versions disappointed many players, and many felt that the new editions made visual changes that took away from important aesthetic aspects of the source games. Additionally, AI upscaling of some assets produced odd results, though many of those instances have since been fixed.

The gameplay was still as fun as ever, though, and the new versions made it much more feasible to play the games on modern platforms than it was before.

The addition of the GTA titles to Netflix’s library marks the first time the games service has branched significantly beyond the carefully curated indie library it has been known for to date.

The company’s games service gives Netflix users access to around 80 iOS and Android games as part of their existing subscriptions. Critics have hailed the company’s curation of excellent titles, but most of the games have not had a lot of cultural impact yet—certainly nothing like you get with a GTA game.

A rumor from a few months back said that Netflix was exploring making an original GTA game; it’s unclear whether the rumor was referring to this announcement or if something else is yet to come.

Netflix hasn’t revealed numbers about how many people are playing its games, but Netflix Games has stolen some thunder from some other mobile game subscription services like Apple Arcade due to positive press for some of the well-crafted indies in the lineup.

We’ll have to wait and see how the introduction of (admittedly 20-year-old) triple-A games mixes things up moving forward.

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