Can the Nintendo Switch Play GTA 5?


Where is GTA 5?

A few days ago, my friend and I were chatting away while playing GTA online on our PS5s. As bullets flew, and beer flowed, our conversation eventually steered itself to the Nintendo Switch and GTA 5.

Why wasn’t GTA 5, one of the biggest games of all time, on the Nintendo Switch? After all, the Switch has tens of millions of gamers pressing and plucking their joy-cons every day.

The conversation went on and I realized that we couldn’t be the only ones wondering if GTA 5 would ever head to the Switch. So after our game ended (Inevitably, in my defeat), I jumped on the Macbook and started looking for more concrete answers. This is what I found:

Can the Nintendo Switch Play GTA 5? No, the Nintendo Switch can not play Grand Theft Auto 5. Rockstar, the owners and developers of GTA 5, have never released a GTA game on a Nintendo home console. There are no plans to release GTA 5 on the Switch or the upcoming Switch Pro.

Ok, now you know GTA 5 isn’t on the Switch. In the next few sections, I’ll explore why it’s not on the Switch, if it’ll ever come to the Switch Pro, and what alternative games similar to GTA 5 are on Switch.

Let’s take a look…

Can the Nintendo Switch Play GTA 5?

Sadly, no, the Switch can’t play GTA 5.

Rockstar, the developers of GTA 5, have never moved to port GTA 5 to Nintendo’s hybrid console. Now, most would think it a no-brainer for Rockstar. After all, Nintendo has sold over 80 million Switches. That’s one heck of a market for Rockstar to train their sites on.

But, 4 years after the Switch’s launch, there’s still no GTA 5, or any other GTA for that matter, on the Switch.

And I don’t think there will be any time soon, either.

I’ll explain why in the next section.

Why isn’t GTA 5 On the Switch

Nintendo doesn’t like games that depict realistic real-world violence.

Switch has the GPU power but doesn’t have the CPU power

One of the arguments against GTA on the Switch is the Switch’s lack of graphics power. But the Switch has more graphical power than the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. And they were both the original home of GTA 5.

So what gives?

Well, I believe that one of the reasons why the GTA 5 isn’t on Switch is a lack of CPU power. GTA 5 simulates a vast world stuffed full of independent simulated elements such as cars and people. That kind of world takes a lot of CPU cycles to run. Cycles the Switch’s ARM-based CPU doesn’t have to spare.

The Switch’s CPU is a 4 core Cortex-A57 running at 1.02Ghz. For example, the Xbox 360 CPU was a 3 Core, 6 thread CPU that ran at 3.2Ghz. The Switch’s CPU is far more modern. However, there is still a large disparity between the power offered by the Xbox 360/PS3 CPU and the Switch CPU.

Nintendo doesn’t want a crime simulator on their console

The main reason why I think GTA 5 isn’t on the Switch is that Nintendo does not like games depicting direct real-world violence on their consoles.

Think about it: Where’s Call of Duty? It hasn’t been released on Switch because it depicts real world violence.

DOOM and Wolfenstein offer M rated experiences, but they offer them in fantasy/alternative reality setting that makes them tolerable to Nintendo’s ethics.

Ok, you might think that Saint’s Row 3 and 4, both on Switch, are crime simulators. But I’d argue otherwise. Both are tongue in cheek and offer over-the-top weapons and super-human powers.

Yes, GTA games have been on past Nintendo Consoles. GTA Chinatown was on the DS and a port of GTA was on the Game Boy Advance. But Chinatown was a top-down experience harking back to the original GTA. Yes, it depicted violence. But that violence was stylized and abstract thanks to the top-down view.

So I strongly believe that GTA is not on the Switch because Nintendo doesn’t want to associate their consoles with real-world representations of violence.

Rockstar believe the market is wrong for their game

For a product to succeed it not enough to just enter a huge market. It has to enter a market with the right people who would be interested in what you are selling.

Even though the Switch offers a massive 85 million user market, Rockstar may have decided that the type of player who would play GTA 5 isn’t represented in great enough numbers by that market.

Rockstar may think that people who would be interested in playing GTA already have a Playstation 4 or another console.

Also, Switch users who only have a Switch to game on, such as children, couldn’t play GTA 5.

Additionally, Rockstar may have data from previous Rockstar games released on Nintendo consoles that indicated a lack of interest with low sales.

Will GTA 5 Ever be on the Nintendo Switch?

There have been persistent rumors throughout 2020 and 2021 that Nintendo is planning on unveiling a Nintendo Switch Pro. In fact, by the time you read this Nintendo may have already shown off the Nintendo Switch Pro in a pre-E3 conference.

The Pro is very much the same sort of beast as the PS4 Pro and the Xbox Series X: It’s a mid-generation console update designed to offer “hardcore” gamers a more powerful alternative to the normal Nintendo Switch.

The Pro’s feature set includes more power for 4K gaming, high frame rates, an OLED screen, and more RAM.

What has all this got to do with GTA 5?

Well, a more powerful Switch may make Rockstar reconsider its stance on releasing its games on the Switch, including GTA 5.

As noted above, if Rockstar considered the current Switch too weak to power GTA 5 the Switch Pro could solve this problem.

GTA 5 would act as a huge system seller for Nintendo. And would give Rockstar a chance to fit a tap to a currently untapped market.

As of May 2021, there have been 84.6 million Switch’s sold. If Nintendo could convert just 1 tenth of those to Nintendo Switch Pro, that would give Rockstar a large marketplace to sell GTA 5 in.

However, again, I think Nintendo will not let GTA 5 be released on the Switch because of the depiction of real-world violence.

What GTA 5 Alternatives are there on Nintendo Switch?

The Witcher 3 is to games what Die Hard is to action films: An absolute classic that should be experienced by everybody.

Ok, so GTA 5 isn’t coming to the Switch any time soon. But what alternatives there for you to get your car-jacking fix? Let’s take a look.

Saint’s Row 3 and 4.

Saint’s Row 3 and 4 both offer an open city world where crime pays. Steal cars, loot banks, shoot your way through the streets. But unlike GTA, Saint’s Row lets you terrorize the city in deliberately comical and over-the-top ways.

Both Saint’s Row games have been ported from other consoles extremely successfully to the Switch. They offer a tantalizing glimpse of what a GTA port could offer.

Fortunately both games sell for very reasonable prices and can often be picked up digitally and physically in sales.

Check out Saint’s Row 3 here. If you fancy an even more crazy open-world adventure check out Saint’s Row 4 here. Having played both these games on Playstation 4, I can honestly say they are worth every penny. And there’s a load of 5-star reviews that agree with me.

The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 is set in a medieval world where monsters roam the lands and enhanced human mercenaries called Witchers hunt them down for coin.

Ok, so you’ve probably heard of this game already. It’s one of the most celebrated, engrossing open-world games ever made.

Ported to the Switch, this PS4/Xbox One game offers a breathtaking world that’s happy to suck you in as much as you’ll allow it.

Yes, it’s not exactly a GTA clone with cars and a modern city. But if you’ve got an open mind, I promise you, the Witcher 3 will scratch your GTA 5 itch.

Check out The Witcher 3 here.

Lego City Undercover

If you want a game that offers a similar experience to GTA 5 but is child-friendly, then Lego City Undercover is the game for you.

Offering up a lego inspired open world city, Lego City Undercover is , by its own admission, GTA in reverse.

You play as cop Chase McCain, and it’s your job to hunt down criminals and bring them to justice. Through the game, you’ll make use of McCain’s moves to navigate the sprawling metropolis and a number of self-contained puzzle levels.

Check out Lego City Undercover and it’s 2800 5-star reviews here.

Summary

It wouldn’t be one of my articles if I didn’t include a handy summary to remind you of all the key points I’ve rabbited on about. So let’s take a look:

  • GTA is not on the Switch
  • The Reasons why GTA 5 is not on the Nintendo Switch are:
    • The Switch doesn’t have enough CPU power
    • Rockstar doesn’t think the Switch market is right for them
    • Nintendo won’t allow real-world depictions of violence on the console
  • I think there is a small chance GTA 5 could be released on or alongside the Nintendo Switch Pro
  • There are some alternatives to GTA 5 on Switch. These include:

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

2 thoughts on “Can the Nintendo Switch Play GTA 5?

  1. LOL CPU not powerful enough. This is the biggest joke I’ve heard. Just because the CPU runs on lower frequency it does not mean it’s slower… Switch has a more powerful hardware overall then PS3 and also than Wii U which was more powerful than PS3… There’s nothing in the way for the switch to run GTA V technically. The other reasons might be the actual reasons…

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