Rumour: Sega Almost Owned The Publishing Rights To GTA 1
Image: Rockstar / BMG

The GTA series is one of gaming's biggest brands, with total combined sales of more than 420 million units worldwide.

Created by DMA Designs' David Jones and Mike Dailly, the game that kicked things off was published by BMG Interactive back in 1997 – but, according to a new rumour, it could have been a different name on the box.

According to Swiss collector and preservationist Comby Laurent, Sega was in the running for publishing duties on GTA – but the fact that it wouldn't be able to release the game on PlayStation proved to be a sticking point.

"Sega got offered the rights for just publishing on PC," explains Laurent. "Clearly, back then, Sega was not able to publish on PlayStation. Another publisher had the possibility to release both for PC and PlayStation, so they were willing to pay more for the right to publish GTA. So that's why Sega missed out on this."

Something we feel is important to note is that GTA has had few publishers over the years and Laurent hasn't exactly been clear on who he is referring to here or when exactly this took place. BMG Interactive, for instance, was the original publisher of the game in Europe across PS1 & PC in 1997, while a publisher named ASC Games eventually brought the game to North American computers in 1998. Following that, Take-Two then acquired all the rights to the game later that year, releasing Grand Theft Auto on PS1 in Summer 1998 and eventually reissuing it for PC.

Either way, Sega stepping in and taking over publishing would have severed Sam Houser's connection with the franchise he turned into a commercial giant – as he not only worked at BMG but at Take-Two as well.

Had Sega been able to work out a way of publishing on Sony's console (after all, Sony managed to do it with WipEout, which came out on both Saturn and N64), then history could have been very different indeed. "It could have grown into Sega owning the franchise and doing [what] Rockstar ended up doing with the franchise," adds Laurent.

We've reached out to Laurent to ascertain the source of this information and will update this post as and when we hear back.