It's time for CJ to follow the damn train once more as Rockstar follows the money in the proprietary game launcher space. Today marks the launch of the Rockstar Games Launcher on the PC, and to promote the service Rockstar is offering Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas free to users for a limited time.
The Rockstar Games Launcher can be downloaded from the Rockstar Social Club website. A Social Club account is required to sign into the launcher. Once installed, you can scan your system for already purchased copies of the games that are currently available in the launcher's store, which include Grand Theft Auto 5, Grand Theft Auto 3, San Andreas, Vice City, L.A. Noire, Bully, and Max Payne 3. Grand Theft Auto 4 is notably absent from the launcher's debut catalogue.
Right now, Rockstar's launcher supports multiple Social Club profiles, 2-step verification, cloud saves, and automatic updating. Official add-ons for certain titles can be purchased through the Rockstar Games launcher, but it currently lacks integration for user mods.
This move puts Rockstar on the growing list of developers and publishers that have created first-party PC launchers with associated storefronts. While Steam and the Epic Games Store continue working at odds to attract third-party developers to its storefronts, Activision, EA, Bethesda, and Ubisoft are also operating applications for buying and playing games. Direct purchases, itch.io, Humble, and sales through Discord servers also add to people's increasingly fragmented game libraries. CD Projekt Red's GOG Galaxy 2.0 is aiming to group all the other launchers under its own launcher.
None of the games currently available on Rockstar's launcher are exclusive to it, though offering a free copy of San Andreas could help drive adoption. In comparison, the launch of the Epic Games Store was helped by the tremendous success of Fortnite, which required Epic's launcher.
There's still no word on whether Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar's latest smash hit on consoles, wil be ported to the PC any time soon. Earlier this year, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said there would be "no downside" to a PC release for the game. If Rockstar's wild west opus were released for the PC exclusively through its own PC game launcher, letting Rockstar and Take-Two bypass the revenue splits offered through other companies' storefronts, that'd be one less reason to keep the game to consoles.