I‘m guessing you‘re a gaming fan interested in playing some Grand Theft Auto (or as the cool kids say, GTA) titles on your computer. But you likely don’t want to pay full price for premium games, especially if you just want to try them out first, right?
Totally understandable! The good news is there are actually a few options for getting certain GTA games free legally on PC. In this guide just for you, I’ll run through which GTA titles have been made available for free download on desktop platforms. I’ll also provide some tips and things to know about expanding your options to play free GTA-style games.
Let‘s jump right in!
Can You Get GTA 5 Free on PC?
I know what you’re thinking first—GTA 5 is the big modern blockbuster game in the series that all your friends are probably playing.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you! GTA 5 was temporarily available for free download exclusively through the Epic Games Store for PC gamers back in May 2020. During a special 1-week promotion, the premium edition of GTA 5 was offered at $0, saving players the regular $29.99 price tag.
Over 2 million users jumped at the chance to permanently add GTA 5 to their Epic Games library for free during this giveaway event. It was part of Epic’s ongoing efforts to build their userbase by giving away popular paid games for temporary periods.
Now, there’s a catch—the promotion ended on May 21, 2020, so GTA 5 isn’t currently free on PC anymore. You had to claim it during that special week-long window last year to get it gratis.
However, according to data from analytics firm SuperData, Epic recouped their losses by raking in $54.7 million in microtransaction revenue from all those new players. So the free game giveaway was a win-win!
While you sadly missed out on scoring GTA 5 for free though, don’t fret too much. It does go on sale fairly frequently on sites like Epic Games Store and Steam. I’ve seen it discounted down to as low as $15 during some holiday sales events.
Just be sure to watch for deals around big seasonal sales like Black Friday, holiday sales in December, and the Steam Summer Sale in June/July. If you follow gaming news sites and set price drop alerts on stores, you’ll be notified right away when GTA 5 goes on sale again. Patience pays off!
Did GTA: San Andreas Ever Get a Free Release?
Ah, GTA: San Andreas—many fans look back on it as one of the best entries ever in the iconic crime series. This 2004 open-world game took things to the next level after GTA 3 and Vice City laid the groundwork.
Set in the fictional state of San Andreas in the early 1990s, the game let players explore cities based on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. There were also huge rural areas, forests, and even desert between the urban sprawls.
Developer Rockstar really doubled down on customization too, letting you tweak CJ’s physique, hairstyle, face, and tattoos. Not to mention all the awesome vehicles you could mod and bling out at garages!
I have some positive news for you on this legendary title—Rockstar Games actually gave away GTA: San Andreas for free briefly on PC!
Here’s what happened:
When Rockstar released the remastered GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition bundle in late 2021, it arrived riddled with technical issues on PC. Players experienced problems like:
- Missing textures and objects
- Broken animations and visual glitches
- Constant crashing and frame rate drops
To apologize for this poor launch state, Rockstar gave away free copies of the Definitive Edition of GTA: San Andreas on PC to anyone who purchased the trilogy bundle before June 2022.
For a couple months, this new remaster with upgraded graphics could be claimed free as a make-good. They ended the promotion as quality improved following some patches.
But even if you didn’t buy the trilogy bundle, some keys for the free San Andreas Definitive Edition were still circulating online after the giveaway ended. So you may be able to hunt one down for gratis even now!
I‘d keep an eye on sites like Reddit where generous players sometimes do giveaways of these keys that are unused. It never hurts to nicely ask around communities too. With some polite persistence, you may luck out!
Grab GTA 1 and 2 Free Straight from Rockstar
Let’s go back, way back to the 1990s when the Grand Theft Auto series first exploded onto the scene.
The original 2D GTA games may feel dated now, but they laid the foundation for the entire franchise we know and love. Plus they let you directly experience the early roots of open world gaming.
In a cool move, Rockstar has made both GTA 1 and 2 available as free downloads right through their website. You can grab and play these classic games on modern PCs with just a quick file download.
Both games are under 1GB each, so they won’t take long to download even on a slow connection. And they run easily on pretty much any decent computer these days given their age.
I highly recommend popping open your web browser and hitting these links to grab them while you can:
It‘s awesome that Rockstar provides official freeware releases like this for gamers to legally play a piece of history. You’ll enjoy the retro polygonal graphics and gameplay that spawned an entire franchise.
Plus since they‘re so old now, you can activate cheat codes and go wild without worrying about disabling achievements or anything modern like that. Give them a go for the sheer novelty!
Can You Get Other Paid GTA Games Free?
Alright, you’re probably wondering—have any other main GTA games had free promotions on PC at some point?
Well, sadly the majority of titles stay at their premium-priced status permanently. Big hits like GTA 3, Vice City, 4, and other entries havelargely avoided giveaways.
With that said, here are a few creative ways you may be able to score other paid GTA games for free if luck‘s on your side:
Used Codes: If you can track down a physical copy of a GTA game that originally required a one-time code to activate, unused codes can still work even years later! Likewise, if a friend has an old boxed copy they no longer want, take the code.
Free Weekend Promotions: Steam, Epic, and other PC gaming platforms will sometimes make paid games free to play for a limited 3-5 day period as a promotional event. Keep watch around big sales for potential free GTA weekends.
Giveaways and Contests: Game companies and media outlets like IGN or GameSpot occasionally do contest giveaways where you can win game codes. Follow them on social media and sign up for newsletters to stay notified of any GTA giveaway opportunities.
Library Lending: Believe it or not, many local libraries allow you to check out and borrow video game discs! If your local branch participates, contact them and politely request they purchase any GTA titles available for lending. You can then install and play them for free temporarily.
At the end of the day though, the bulk of GTA games do remain paid-for titles only. Just be wary of illegal downloads or cracks claiming to offer free full games—they usually contain nasty malware. I’d hate to see your nice PC get ruined!
Let‘s Talk About GTA Games on Consoles and Mobile
I imagine you‘re mostly interested in getting GTA games going on your gaming PC. But real quick, let‘s also discuss what options are out there for consoles and mobile devices as a quick comparison.
Free-to-Play GTA Games on Consoles?
On game consoles like PlayStation and Xbox, there are zero options to download and play GTA games for free permanently. The series is a consistent top-seller on console platforms, so the publisher has no incentive to give them away gratis.
However, there are some exceptions and ways to access them without paying on consoles:
PlayStation Plus: Subscribers can download and play the GTA Online multiplayer mode for free on PS5 indefinitely, even without owning GTA 5. The single player isn‘t included though.
Xbox Game Pass: Microsoft‘s Netflix-style games subscription includes access to install and play GTA 5 as long as your membership is active.
Free Weekend Events: Occasionally GTA titles may get free temporary "trial" periods on consoles allowing a few days of playtime.
But overall, all mainline GTA entries on PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles are premium paid titles only. Rockstar very rarely budges on giving away flagship new games for free permanently.
What About Mobile GTA Games for Free?
On smartphones and tablets, most GTA games are available as paid apps costing $4.99 to $6.99 USD generally.
These include mobile ports of classics like GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas, and Liberty City Stories. They‘ve been optimized for touch controls but offer the full story experiences.
The only mobile options mimicking GTA gameplay without a price tag are unofficial clones like Gangstar Vegas. It copies GTA mechanics in an open world crime game full of guns, cars, missions, customization and more.
But besides Gangstar Vegas, there are zero ways to play official mobile versions of GTA titles for free. While they cost less than console or PC, they remain premium app products with upfront fees to download.
Using GTA Mods and Cheats on PC
Here‘s a clever tip for you: If you already own any GTA games on PC, you can dramatically expand and enhance them for free using mods and cheat codes.
Mods allow you to transform almost any aspect of a GTA game by customizing things like:
- Vehicles, player models, textures
- Missions, areas, UI
- Game mechanics and physics
- Audio and visual effects
And by activating cheat codes, you can do stuff like:
- Spawn any vehicle or item
- Get unlimited health and ammo
- Toggle invincibility
- Freeze/alter time of day
- Disable police
After you finish the story normally once, I highly recommend experimenting with awesome mods and cheats. It‘ll refresh these premium titles and unlock near endless new ways to play for $0 extra!
Just be smart—avoid shady unknown sites when mod downloading to prevent malware. And back up save files before activating certain cheats that disable achievements. But otherwise, go wild and have fun!
When Might Future GTA Games Go Free?
I‘m sure like any gaming fan, you‘re also wondering about what the future holds for this legendary franchise.
Rest assured, development on GTA 6 has been confirmed to be in full swing! While details are scarce, it‘s expected to push boundaries even farther whenever it does launch.
But will brand new GTA titles ever release as free games, or shift to that model down the road?
Based on Rockstar‘s track record, it‘s highly unlikely any mainline entries will launch free-to-play. Expect all new GTA games for the foreseeable future to be premium $59.99 titles upon release.
However, there is potential for limited-time free giveaways of new GTA games shortly after launch as promotional events, similar to GTA 5 on Epic Games Store.
There‘s also a chance way down the road that certain titles may shift to free-to-play permanently. For example, Rockstar could release GTA 6 as a paid game at first, then make it free on its 10-year anniversary.
But overall, count on investing money upfront for all new GTA experiences, at least for quite a while post-launch. Given the massive popularity of the IP, Rockstar has little reason to make the newest games free. But hey, I‘d love to be proven wrong on this!
Great Free Games if You Dig the GTA Vibe
Maybe you just can‘t wait and are itching to play some open world chaotic fun now. I feel you!
Here are some great free PC games I recommend if you want a similar vibe and features as GTA:
Fortnite: The free battle royale mode has awesome weapons, skins, emotes, vehicles, and a huge map with constantly evolving biomes and areas.
Destiny 2: While not fully open world, it nails fluid FPS combat mixed with abilities and RPG loot progression for endless fun.
Genshin Impact: This free anime-style RPG has a massive open world encouraging exploration, gliding, combos, and quests.
APB Reloaded: A free online cops and robbers game with driving, shooting, missions, gear, and a city you control territory in.
Warframe: A stellar looter shooter with cyperpunk theming, diverse abilities/classes, morally ambiguous factions, trading, deep customization and storytelling.
The Cycle: Fight PvE enemies and other players on a hostile alien planet with quests, fort building, hoverbikes, rare loot, and more.
Any of these will give you a taste of exciting open world or criminal concepts for zero upfront cost. They all have tons of content and frequent updates too.
Have fun and let me know if you have any other questions—I‘m always happy to chat games and share tips with fellow players to save money! Game on!
And there you have it! I tried to provide lots of helpful details, data, tips, and recommendations to give you a comprehensive overview of getting GTA games free on PC. Let me know if you need anything else—have fun and enjoy!