Rockstar Games may be planning to sidestep its exclusivity deal with Sony and bring the multi-million selling Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to the Xbox as soon as this Christmas, according to a news report yesterday.
American games website IGN.com claims that the publisher may use a loophole in its exclusivity agreement with Sony and release the game on Xbox using the name "Vice City" - dropping the Grand Theft Auto moniker entirely.
Porting the game to the Xbox would certainly be a pretty simple task for developers Rockstar North, since the title uses the cross-platform Renderware architecture and there's already a PC version in existence. If Rockstar wanted an Xbox version for Christmas, there's no doubt that one could be ready, in theory.
Much of this rumour seems to be borne out of the comments made on a financial conference call by Take Two CEO Jeffrey Lapin, who hinted that a major Rockstar title would appear on the Xbox at the start of Take 2's fiscal 2004 - which runs from November to January. However, there's absolutely no confirmation that this title is a Grand Theft Auto game, with Take 2 refusing to comment on the rumours.
If Rockstar really is planning to exploit a contractual loophole in its deal with Sony, the fallout will be interesting to watch. Rockstar may well believe that right now, the success of Grand Theft Auto makes them so valuable to Sony that an infraction like this will be ignored - and they may well be right. Rockstar North is certainly one of Sony's preferred early developers for PlayStation 3, and the prospect of the GTA franchise going exclusively to Xbox 2 early in the next-generation race would make blood drain from the faces of a lot of SCEE and SCEA executives.