GTA 5 on the Switch: Buried Dreams or Never-Been Realities?


The rumor mill has been swirling for years with speculation that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 5 might one day make its way to the Nintendo Switch.

However, recent revelations from the leaks of the game’s source code suggest that this dream might have been nothing more than a mirage.

A Decade of Rumors: The Elusive GTA 5 Switch Port

On September 17, GTA 5 celebrated its 10th anniversary of release.

But amidst the celebrations, a persistent rumor about a Switch port at its peak.

Some data miners speculated that the Rockstar might have been working on getting GTA 5 running on the Nintendo Switch.

Especially since Rockstar has managed to port other games using the same RAGE engine, like L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption 2, over to the underpowered hybrid console.

However, according to recently leaked data, the situation is the opposite of what was previously believed.

The Hunt for Clues in the Leaked GTA 5 Code

A Reddit user, RafaelSwi, conducted a meticulous analysis of the leaked GTA 5 source code, shedding light on the alleged Switch port saga.

Surprisingly, the entire codebase contained only two references to the Nintendo Switch and a handful more related to its NX64 codename.

However, these references were not the smoking gun that fans had hoped for.

The Unseen Obstacles: ARM Architecture and Abandoned Plans

RafaelSwi’s findings suggest that while there were some references to the Switch, they were tied to utility functions and objects unrelated to GTA 5’s potential port.

This leads to the conclusion that the game was never close to running on the ARM architecture of the Nvidia Tegra X1, the powerhouse behind the Switch.

The theory proposed by RafaelSwi is intriguing – Rockstar might have initially entertained the idea of a Switch port but abandoned it after learning about the 64-bit ARM architecture of the Wii U successor.

This would explain the prevalence of the NX codename over the official Switch moniker in the source code.

A Waste of Time: Running GTA 5 on the Switch?

RafaelSwi boldly asserts that attempting to run GTA 5 on the Switch before porting the RAGE engine to the console would have been “a waste of time.”

This reinforces the idea that the game was never actively in development for the Switch.

Especially since GTA 5 was originally built to take full advantage of the much brawnier CPUs and GPUs found in the PS3, Xbox 360, and PCs.

What’s Next: A Glimmer of Hope for the Future?

With the recent release of Red Dead Redemption on the Switch in August 2023, hope for a GTA 5 port remains uncertain.

Also, Nintendo is widely rumored to be planning a next-gen “Switch 2” console for release around 2024.

This has led some fans to wonder if Rockstar might revisit bringing Grand Theft Auto to Nintendo platforms with this new hardware.

However, hopes likely shouldn’t be set too high.

Nintendo’s sequels have traditionally lagged behind Sony’s and Microsoft’s platforms substantially in raw CPU and GPU power.

So the Switch 2 would need to be a massive generational leap to even come close to what GTA5/GTA 6 is expected to demand based on early PS5 and Xbox Series X analysis.

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