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Security

Multimillion-dollar Solana crypto theft linked to Slope mobile wallet

Earlier this week, thousands of crypto wallets connected to the Solana ecosystem were drained by attackers who used owners’ private keys to steal both Solana (SOL) and USD Coin (USDC). Solana now says that, after an investigation “by developers, ecosystem teams, and security auditors,” it’s linked the attack to accounts tied to the Slope mobile wallet app.

A chart set up on Dune to track the attacks tallies the amount of crypto stolen at just over $4 million, taken from over 9,000 unique wallets.

Slope Finance, which calls itself “the easiest way to discover web3 applications from one secure place,” has issued a statement advising all Slope users to create “a new and unique seed phrase wallet, and transfer all assets to this new wallet.” The blog post says “many” wallets belonging to Slope staff were also drained but notes that hardware wallets (also known as cold wallets, which are not connected to the internet) were unaffected.

Slope did not provide details of how the attack happened, but outsiders have uncovered evidence that the company’s mobile apps were transmitting users’ private keys unencrypted as part of their logging and telemetry.

In a tweet, the Solana group said, “The details of exactly how this occurred are still under investigation, but private key information was inadvertently transmitted to an application monitoring service.” The company added: “There is no evidence the Solana protocol or its cryptography was compromised.”

Some Solana users keeping funds on wallets operated by third-party Phantom were also affected, but Phantom itself has placed blame for the breach firmly at Slope’s doorstep.

“Phantom has reason to believe that the reported exploits are due to complications related to importing accounts to and from @slope_finance,” the company tweeted. “In the meantime, if any Phantom users have also installed other wallets, we recommend you try to move your assets to a new non-Slope wallet with a fresh seed phrase.”



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Game

‘Grand Theft Auto VI’ reportedly has a female lead

Grand Theft Auto VI might reflect evolving social attitudes as much as it does gameplay. Bloomberg sources claim Rockstar’s future open-world title will include the franchise’s first playable female lead character. The Latina woman will reportedly be part of a Bonnie and Clyde-inspired duo at the heart of the story. Developers are also trying to shake a past reputation for transphobia and won’t make jokes about marginalized groups, the tipsters said.

Rockstar’s attempt to avoid crunch time is also affecting both the scope and release date for the game, according to the sources. GTA VI was supposedly meant to cover large portions of North and South America, but was whittled back to a fictional version of the Miami area (presumably Vice City). And while financial analysts are predicting a release sometime between April 2023 and March 2024, Bloomberg‘s contacts believe the game is “at least” two years away.

The company has apparently overhauled its design and management structures to reduce the need for excessive work hours. It reportedly added team members, created more opportunities for time off and fired leaders who were allegedly abusive or difficult. While the insiders described problems with bureaucratic overhead and some frustration over a lack of progress, many employees were said to be happy with the reduced pressure.

There’s enough financial breathing room, at least. GTA V and GTA Online have enjoyed success for years. GTA V only left The NPD Group’s top 20 yearly bestsellers in 2020, and that was because NPD stopped tracking digital sales from Rockstar parent company Take-Two. GTAO, meanwhile, has been popular enough that Rockstar launched a GTA+ subscription service this year to profit from the game’s biggest fans. GTA VI may arrive more than a decade after its predecessor, but its creators won’t suffer much from the long wait.

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Security

Axie Infinity NFT game reopens transactions months after $625 million theft

Ronin Bridge, the link that enables users to transfer funds to and from accounts in the “play to earn” Axie Infinity game, has reopened following a $625 million theft that took place in March. Sky Mavis, the developer group behind Axie Infinity and the Ronin blockchain that powers the game, announced that players can now use the bridge to make deposits and withdrawals.

Since March, the Ronin Bridge has been closed off as Sky Mavis worked to bolster its security protocols and recover users’ funds. The attack went unnoticed for six days until a user tried to withdraw funds and couldn’t do it. In a postmortem, Sky Mavis blamed a spear-phishing attack that compromised an employee’s account, saying that person no longer works with the company, as well as its lack of a tracking system to monitor large outflows.

After conducting an investigation, the US Treasury Department attributed the hack to the North Korean hacking group Lazarus and issued sanctions on the wallet address containing the stolen cryptocurrency. Sky Mavis initially planned to have the bridge up and running by the end of April but later delayed its reopening, citing that “this is not a process we can afford to rush” because the bridge “will secure billions of dollars in assets.”

Sky Mavis appears to have followed through on its promise to compensate players affected by the theft. Although it notes that users’ funds are “fully backed 1:1 by the new bridge,” Sky Mavis still hasn’t made up for a large portion of the Ronin network’s stolen funds. After pooling money from the founding members of the Sky Mavis team and receiving $150 million in funding from a number of companies, including Binance, the firm says Ronin’s currently down 71,600 ETH (~$85.8 million) and 25.5 million USDC ($25.5 million). Sky Mavis says it’s reimbursing these liabilities in full.

But this still doesn’t account for the 56,000 wETH (~$67.2 million) drained from the Axie DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) Treasury, the group of people who vote on decisions for the Axie community. Sky Mavis says it’s working with law enforcement to retrieve these funds. If it doesn’t recover them within two years, the DAO will cast a vote on the “next steps.”

In a message on Discord, developers told players they’re also on track to add Land Staking this week, which is another scheme to help generate rewards for players who’ve invested money in the game. The Verge senior entertainment editor Andrew Webster tried playing the game and said, “The creatures are all extremely similar, and experimentation is nonexistent unless you want to fork out a bunch of cryptocurrency.”

It’s unclear what these changes will do to improve the actual gaming experience, even if the back end is, now, more secure. Shortly after the attack, Sky Mavis launched Axie Infinity: Origin, a newer version that includes free-to-play elements to try and attract new players who don’t have blockchain wallets yet.

To help prevent future thefts, the Ronin Bridge has undergone one internal audit and two external audits by blockchain security firms Verichains and Certik. The bridge also has a new “circuit-breaker system” designed to stop suspicious users from making unusually large withdrawals. You can read more about Ronin’s update in its blog post, as well as read up on its technical documentation.



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Security

US blames North Korean hacker group for $625 million Axie Infinity theft

The US Treasury Department blames North Korean hacking group Lazarus for stealing $625 million in cryptocurrency from the Ronin network, the blockchain backing the Axie Infinity play-to-earn crypto game, according to a report from Vice. On Thursday, the Department of Treasury updated sanctions to include the wallet address that received the funds and attributed it to the Lazarus group.

In an updated post about the incident, the Ronin network, which is owned by developer group Sky Mavis, explains the US Department of Treasury and FBI have pinned the attack on Lazarus. “We are still in the process of adding additional security measures before redeploying the Ronin Bridge to mitigate future risk,” the post reads. “We expect to deliver a full post mortem that will detail security measures put in place and next steps by the end of the month.” Ronin says it will bring its bridge back online “by the end of the month.” The bridge allows users to transfer funds between other blockchains and Axie Infinity and has been blocked off since the attack.

As noted by Vice, the flagged wallet address currently contains over $445 million USD (148,000 Ethereum) and sent almost $10 million (3,302.6 ETH) to another address less than a day ago. Crypto transaction tracker Etherscan labels the address as “reported to be involved in a hack targeting the Ronin bridge.”

On March 29th, hackers made off with $625 million worth of Ethereum in one of the biggest crypto heists to date. According to cryptocurrency investigation group Chainanalysis, the Lazarus group is tied to North Korea’s intelligence agency and was responsible for seven attacks last year. The group gained notoriety for hacking Sony Pictures in 2014, leaking The Interview, a comedy set in North Korea directed by Seth Rogen. It later used Trojan malware to steal millions from ATMs across Asia and Africa in 2018 and has also been linked to WannaCry ransomware.

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Game

‘Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ is coming to VR on Oculus Quest 2

One of the most-loved entries in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series is coming to VR. On Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a port of 2004’s GTA: San Andreas is in development for the company’s Quest 2 VR headset. “This new version of what I think is one of the greatest games ever made will offer players an entirely new way to experience this iconic open world in virtual reality,” Zuckerberg said during the event.

Zuckerberg didn’t say when Quest 2 owners can expect to play the game. The blog post the company published after the event also didn’t provide many other details either. “This is a project many years in the making, and we can’t wait to show you more of it,” the company said. Whatever form the final product takes, it’s likely to look a lot like the Resident Evil 4 remake Facebook and Capcom released last week. Expect the company’s Oculus Studios division to rework various elements of the game to make the PlayStation 2-era game more practical and comfortable to play in virtual reality.     

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Game

All Grand Theft Auto Games, Ranked

Few video game series are as legendary as Grand Theft Auto, which made a name for itself thanks to developer Rockstar Games. It’s been around since 1997, spanning across numerous console generations, and taking place from versions of the 1960s to the 2020s. It’s a controversial series that has been featured in the news for its violence and adult themes, but this has led to even more sales, increasing the allure and popularity.

Beyond its controversies, the Grand Theft Auto series is comprised of fantastic games — some of which have completely revolutionized the medium as a whole. Many modern hits owe a lot to the Grand Theft Auto series, proving just how important these games are, even 20 years later. To celebrate the series, Rockstar is releasing an enhanced trilogy collection for modern platforms in November, preserving the legacy of many of the best games in the franchise.

In the meantime, you might want to revisit the Grand Theft Auto games — or maybe you simply want something to hold you over until GTA 6. Either way, below is our definitive ranking of the mainline entries in the series, from the original game to the behemoth GTA V.

Recommended reading:

Grand Theft Auto (PlayStation, PC)

When it comes to the older GTA games — the ones that are presented from a top-down perspective — it’s hard to compare them to the massive 3D open-world entries. Nonetheless, the original Grand Theft Auto was ahead of its time in some ways, paving the way for what would become one of the most successful series of all time. In the original, many of the mechanics from modern installments were featured, such as the open-world, the wanted level system, and the ability to complete missions. It also featured three of the most famous locales in the series, including Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City. At the time, Grand Theft Auto felt more like an arcade game than anything, with an emphasis on points and a “lives” system in place. Still, this game is important and although it doesn’t hold up as well today, it led to some of the best games of all time.

Grand Theft Auto 2 (PlayStation, Dreamcast, PC)

Title screen for Grand Theft Auto 2.

In many ways, Grand Theft Auto 2 is an enhanced version of its predecessor, offering more of the same. Because of this, it doesn’t stand out amongst the best in the series, but it’s still a fun experience, albeit an outdated one. It still featured the arcade-like approach, wherein players had to earn points to reach the next mission. However, the highlight of GTA 2 was its near-future setting, which was comprised of multiple districts. It also had more a more immersive world with pedestrians that would behave differently depending on the situation. Aside from a few improvements here and there, GTA 2 is a relic of the past that is hard to go back to 20 years later.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2, PSP)

Woman from Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories.

The Stories games are a bit underappreciated, each serving as prequels that expand the backstory and gameplay of other entries in the series. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III, featuring many familiar characters and locales. In fact, Liberty City is mostly the same in this game as it is in GTA III, though it does feature a few differences, such as the implementation of Little Italy, which would later become a construction site in 2001. Liberty City Stories is definitely a game you’ll appreciate more if you’ve played GTA III but is still enjoyable on its own. This was the first game in the series to launch for the PSP in 2005 before coming to the PS2 the following year.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2, PSP)

Man from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

The cool thing about Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories is that it takes place two years before the events of Vice City but actually borrows several ideas from San Andreas. In it, you can build your empire by employing gang members and expanding it as you play. This, along with a brand new hand-to-hand grappling system gave it more depth, despite being a prequel. Again, Vice City Stories has references to Vice City, with various familiar characters, locations, and missions. At the time, this game was mechanically one of the best in the series, and if you were fond of Vice City, then you’d probably love Vice City Stories.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (PSP, Nintendo DS, Android, iOS)

Woman from Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is unique in that it reverts back to the top-down formula, launching after the series had established itself in the 3D open-world category. That bold move allowed Rockstar to implement some of the ideas of recent entries into this game while keeping things fresh and nostalgic. Chinatown Wars sends players back to Liberty City, this time focusing on the Triad gang, which you might remember from GTA III. Most unique to this game are its touchscreen controls, allowing the player to navigate menus and weapon wheels without pressing a button — at least on the Nintendo DS and mobile versions. It’s a highly underrated gem that gets overshadowed by its 3D counterparts, but that doesn’t make it any less desirable. Chinatown Wars still has the humor, action, and polish of the best GTA games, only on a smaller screen.

Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, PS4, Xbox, PC, Android, iOS)

Art work of supporting characters in Grand Theft Auto III.

Arguably the most important game in the series, Grand Theft Auto III revolutionized the 3D open-world formula, giving players a gigantic, living, breathing sandbox to play around in. It certainly wasn’t the first to ever feature an open world, but in 2001, GTA III popularized this style of game. Even to this day, there are so many things that make GTA III a legendary experience, from its wonderfully-written characters and its satisfying missions to the sheer number of things to do in Liberty City. Granted, a lot of this game feels outdated by today’s standards, such as its lack of right-stick camera controls and its visuals. But still, we owe a lot to GTA III, not just for its influence on the series, but for how it impacted video games as a whole.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, PS4, Xbox, PC, Android, iOS)

Person with weapon in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Just one year after the launch of GTA III, Rockstar published Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a game set in a fictional version of 1980s Miami. Although it isn’t a numbered installment, this game was tremendous when it launched, doubling down on many of the features from its predecessor. It had a bigger, more colorful world, a larger selection of weapons, and a better protagonist who actually talks (sorry Claude). That’s right, the lead role of Tommy Vercetti was met with praise at the time, had much more personality, and was frankly easier to relate to. The music in Vice City was phenomenal, as were the characters, mission variety, and sheer spectacle of the world itself.

Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Niko Bellic from Grand Theft Auto IV.

Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the more interesting entries in the long-running series. Launching for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2008, this game had an immense amount of hype surrounding its release, and it mostly lived up to the expectations. This game had it all: Improved combat, which included a cover-based system similar to Gears of War; incredible visuals (for the time); a city that absolutely felt lived-in; and modern touches such as the implementation of a cell phone that could be used to set up sessions with in-game friends. Speaking of which, the friend system was novel, allowing you to partake in activities with the characters from the story.

The main character, Niko Bellic, is arguably one of the most interesting of the entire series, with a deep backstory that made him feel more fleshed out. Beyond the base game is the robust online mode that allows players to explore the city freely and partake in competitive battles such as races, deathmatches, and other modes. At the time, this was absolutely groundbreaking, as it was the most impressive online mode in the series. Despite this, GTA IV is often forgotten about, and in some cases, it feels like the black sheep of the series. This is despite its phenomenal review scores. Nonetheless, GTA IV is one of the best in the series and is still worth playing in 2021.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, PS4, Xbox, PC, Android, iOS)

Woman from promotional art for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The final game of the PS2 trilogy is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, an entry that is still beloved to this day. In fact, it’s among the best in the series, due in part to its fantastic RPG mechanics, gang warfare, writing, music, and depictions of San Francisco and Los Angeles. Most famously, San Andreas has many references to the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood, as the two share characters and story elements. Ultimately, this game is the culmination of the fantastic elements introduced in the previous two entries. In it, you could control how fit your character is by working out or eating, you could get whatever kind of haircut you’d like, and with an impressive variety of clothing options, customization was always at the forefront. The deep mechanics and cinematic approach to gameplay make this one of the best games in the series, even 16 years later.

Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PC)

Woman from Grand Theft Auto V.

Without a doubt, Grand Theft Auto V is the most robust and successful game in the series. As many Grand Theft Auto games broke new ground, the fifth numbered installment is iconic, eventually becoming one of the bestselling games of all time (at around 150 million units sold). There’s a lot that makes this game so special, such as its absolutely massive open world, its refined gameplay, and its characters. Speaking of characters, this was the first game that featured three playable protagonists, Franklin, Michael, and Trevor — each with their own personalities and motivations. This gave the series a fresh take while implementing smart story segments that tied to the gameplay as well. The standout portion of the main campaign is the heist system, which allows you to team up with your allies to rob a bank.

However, the lasting effect of GTA V has to do with its multiplayer mode, Grand Theft Auto Online. Most of the game’s continued success can be attributed to the online mode, giving players nearly an infinite number of things to do with (or against friends). It truly gives players a massive sandbox full of events, money to earn, and an evolving city that motivates you to keep checking in. GTA Online lets you live your best life, with the ability to buy properties, cars, jets, vehicles, and pretty much anything else. The heists are also available in this mode, expanding upon the basic foundation from the main campaign but allowing multiple players to enjoy them at once. The online mode will likely shape the way the series is handled going forward, shifting away from the single-player approach, with a greater emphasis on multiplayer.

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Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition release date revealed

Earlier this month, Rockstar Games confirmed long-running rumors which claimed that it was working on modern remasters of Grand Theft Auto III and its two sequels, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However, while Rockstar’s announcement contained a fair number of details about the remastered trilogy – which is somewhat annoyingly called Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition – it left one out one key detail: the release date.

Today, we’re finally learning when Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition will be launching, and release is just around the corner. Today, Rockstar said that the remastered compilation will be launching on November 11th, 2021, for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Rockstar Games Launcher.

That’s the date for the digital versions of the game, but Rockstar also says that it will release physical versions of the game for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. We’ll have to wait until December 7th for those.

Rockstar also released a trailer today that shows off the updated graphics we can expect from The Definitive Edition. The changes are pretty dramatic, and even though the trailer is brief, it’s long enough to make it clear that these are more than basic remasters. In a post to its website, Rockstar says that players can expect a “completely rebuilt lighting system; improved shadows, weather, and reflections; upgraded character and vehicle models; along with new higher resolution textures across buildings, weapons, roads, interiors, and more.”

We’ll also be getting several quality of life improvements which include “targeting and lock-on aiming, updated Weapon and Radio Station Wheels, updated Mini-Maps with enhanced navigation allowing players to set waypoints to destinations, updated Achievements, Trophies, and more.” If you’re playing on Switch, you can expect Gyro aiming controls and touchscreen camera controls, while those on PC will be getting NVIDIA DLSS.

In addition to announcing a release date today, Rockstar also revealed that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition will be going live on Xbox Game Pass on November 11th (the same day the whole compilation releases), while Grand Theft Auto III – The Definitive Edition will arrive on PlayStation Now on December 7th. So, if you’re on the fence about buying the whole trilogy, you can check out one of the remastered games using either Xbox Game Pass or PS Now to get a taste of what to expect.

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The remastered Grand Theft Auto trilogy arrives November 11th

Today is the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking Grand Theft Auto III. Although Rockstar Games didn’t mark the occasion with a sudden surprise release of , it when you’ll be able to get your hands on the upgraded versions of GTA III, GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas.

The bundle arrives digitally on November 11th (the for the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of ) on PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch. Physical editions will be available for consoles on December 7th.

Rockstar is charging $60 for the trilogy, which might be hard to swallow for some given that the original versions were often available for a few bucks each before the publisher pulled them from digital storefronts this month. It’s worth noting that the remastered hits Xbox Game Pass on November 11th and the upgraded GTA III will arrive on PlayStation Now on December 7th.

The most obvious changes to the games are upgraded, richer visuals. Rockstar has added higher resolution textures, enhanced the weather effects, improved character and vehicle models, overhauled the lighting system and increased draw distances — all while trying to hang onto each game’s original aesthetic. Vice City, for one thing, looks far more vibrant than the original, but it’s clearly still Vice City.

There are some platform-specific enhancements. PS5 and Xbox Series X players will be able to run the games in 4K at up to 60 frames per second. On PC, there’s support for NVIDIA’s upscaling tech. Switch players, meanwhile, will have gyro controls and can use the touchscreen to to navigate menus and to zoom and pan the camera.

Rockstar has tweaked the gameplay in other ways. The controller layout now matches that of GTA V, and there are changes to gunplay and targeting, the weapon and radio station selection wheels and minimaps (such as the ability to set waypoints). You’ll also be able to immediately restart a mission after failing too, which is a great quality of life update.

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Security

SIM swapper charged in cryptocurrency theft scheme

A University of California San Diego student named Richard Yuan Li was indicted on August 26th for a SIM swapping scheme that involved stealing phone numbers and accounts and extorting at least 40 people for cryptocurrency and other payments, according to a new release the US Department of Justice shared on Monday.

According to the indictment (PDF), Li convinced Apple customer service in 2018 to send him a replacement iPhone 8 for one he claimed was lost in the mail. Li and others then convinced carriers to port victims’ phone numbers to the iPhone 8 to take control of their accounts — and in some cases, drained their crypto wallets directly.

“Li and his co-conspirators contacted victims and demanded that they pay ransoms in order to avoid further harm, including additional account compromises, the loss of additional cryptocurrency, and the release of victims’ confidentiality information the conspirators obtained,” the DOJ writes.

If Li is convicted for all counts, including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and “conspiracy to engage in interstate communication with intent to extort and to commit computer fraud and abuse,” he could serve 20 years in prison and pay a fine up to $250,000, among other possible charges.

SIM swapping is the practice of stealing someone’s identity by assuming their phone number. Typically, numbers from unsuspecting victims are ported over to burner phones — often by asking carriers to do it — and then scammers use those phones to impersonate the victim and seize control of their online accounts. Li’s case is an unfortunate reminder of how common SIM swapping is. In 2019, it even happened to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Phone numbers being the key ingredient for identity theft has a lot to do with the common way two-factor authentication is set up. By default, many online services offer two-factor authentication but use a mobile phone as the second method for identifying someone. With stolen phone numbers, that can just as easily become a foothold to taking over someone’s account.

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Three classic Grand Theft Auto games will be re-released on modern platforms

One of the in the gaming world has been confirmed: is re-releasing three more games. The bundle includes Grand Theft Auto III, GTA: Vice City and .

The clunkily named Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC later this year. The bundle will also land on iOS and Android in the first half of 2022.

Rockstar says the revamped games will have upgraded visuals and “modern gameplay enhancements” while retaining the look and feel of the originals. More details about the changes will be revealed in the coming weeks. Although all three games are classics, their visuals perhaps don’t hold up too well in 2021. Updated graphics might make them worth revisiting, while some fans will appreciate being able to play them on Switch.

Meanwhile, Rockstar will remove the original versions of GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas from digital storefronts starting next week. You’ll still be able to download the games if you bought them previously.

Elsewhere, the publisher plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of GTA III later this month (sorry, it is that old). Some special events and commemorative gear are coming to GTA Online this fall.

The PS2-era games aren’t the only GTA titles that Rockstar is reworking. An expanded and enhanced version of Grand Theft Auto V is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S .

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