Can the PC Modding Community Save GTA IV?
Put your "way back" caps on, and remember a time not too long ago when Rockstar ruled both the PC and console gaming markets. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas launched on the PS2 in October of 2004. It was eventually followed up with releases on the Xbox and PC platforms in June of 2005. Throughout all of that time, the game seemed to somehow maintain its relevance. Despite a graphics engine that was utterly obsolete by this point, and despite the fact that many gamers had already experienced the title on one of the consoles, the PC game just kept selling and selling. Eventually, it helped push San Andreas into the record books, with over 21 million copies sold. It could have been the popularity of gangsta culture, the controversy of Hot Coffee, or the rich and open-ended gameplay offered by San Andreas, but millions of gamers literally could not get enough of the Grove Street families and their ghetto tribulations.
At the moment, Grand Theft Auto IV is a long way from topping the success of San Andreas. In their most recent public financial statement, Rockstar said that they have sold about 10 million copies of GTA IV since the launch of the game, and many analysts see limited upside potential for sales going forward. A flood of fancy new console games is headed our way this winter, and many have already forgotten their short but enjoyable time with GTA IV. What could help rejuvenate interest and give Rockstar’s latest sandbox shooter a chance at achieving the same success as San Andreas?
Forget about the long-promised DLC (which continues to face delays and may or may not live up to fan expectations). We think that a PC release – if handled correctly – could help breathe new life into a game which is already beginning to feel old. Remembering back to 2005, one of the enduring attractions of San Andreas wasn’t the story or even the endless amount of side-quests contained in the game. One can only make taxi missions fun for so long, and we applaud Rockstar for getting rid of them this generation. No, what really made us come back to play the same game again on the PC was the massive fan-based community that developed around the title.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of those fans and hackers, we were given all sorts of new toys to play with in the game. All of the sudden, we had ridiculous cheats, vehicles, and stunts to try out. There were even entire new texture packs and skins released for the game that changed the way it was played. The folks behind SA-MP developed an online multiplayer system that, while glitchy, pointed the way for future possibilities. Amazingly, it is still possible to find servers full of people using this hacker-created mod to enjoy a game that launched in 2004. By contrast, it is already becoming hard to find a solid online match in GTA IV, even 4 months after its release.
Multiplayer mayhem in the San Andreas Multiplayer mod.
So, how can Rockstar handle the release of the PC version to help ensure that it adds to, rather than dampens, fan interest? Simple: make it as open and moddable as possible. In fact, if we were suddenly granted three magical wishes, the first wish would be to work for Rockstar as game developers (obviously). The second wish would be to include a robust level editor as part of the upcoming PC release. There are 20 million fans who each have their own idea about what the perfect GTA game should look like. Why not give them the tools and see what they come up with? Now that would be the ultimate sandbox game.
Another example of fan-created content using SA-MP The following video was created entirely in-game, using modified PC versions of San Andreas:
If you think GTA IV PC should be moddable, be sure to DIGG this article!
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