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The Ultimate Guide to Getting the Original GTA San Andreas in 2023

Hey friend! As a fellow tech geek and avid retro gamer, I know how important it is to be able to play the original classics like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. While it‘s a pain that Rockstar removed the ability to buy GTA:SA digitally, there are still great options to get your hands on this 2004 masterpiece in 2023. Let me walk you through everything I‘ve researched for the best ways to acquire the OG San Andreas nowadays.

Legally Download on Android & Get Free on PC

First up, the good news – you can still buy and download the original on the Google Play store for Android! This is the only digital place I‘ve found that Rockstar hasn‘t removed it from yet. I‘d suggest jumping on that ASAP before it‘s gone. Costs $6.99, but so worth it for that nostalgia on your phone.

For PC, snagging the game free is possible two ways:

1) Claim it on the Rockstar Games Launcher

If you bought the remastered Definitive Edition Trilogy before June 30, 2022, Rockstar offers the original trilogy free on their launcher. I linked my Social Club account and had San Andreas in my library in minutes. Rockstar may discontinue this promo soon, so act fast friend!

2) Download from a trusted abandonware site

Abandonware sites are dedicated to preserving old games by distributing copies. As you likely know, the legality is questionable but generally safe for downloading games that the publisher has abandoned. Personally, I used MyAbandonware – seemed trustworthy and downloaded smooth. But be careful of malware of course!

Buy Physical Copies of GTA: San Andreas

For collectors like myself, having the original disc or even box is a nostalgia rush! Prices vary widely though based on condition and platform. Here‘s a breakdown of where to shop and average prices:

Platform eBay Amazon Game Shops
PS2 $15 $30 $20
Xbox $20 $40 $25
PC $10 $20 $15

I always check eBay first but local game shops can yield bargains too. For new/sealed copies, Amazon is steadiest. Hold out for deals and inspect condition carefully when buying used. It takes some hunting but so rewarding to find that retro case and map!

Experience Original San Andreas on Modern Consoles

Unfortunately, the only way to play on newer consoles like PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Series X/S is buying the remastered Definitive Edition Trilogy. No backwards compatibility for OG San Andreas.

However, I have found some tricky ways to enjoy the original experience on modern hardware:

  • Mod a PS2 Classic on PS4 via jailbreak to inject original game files
  • Install San Andreas on Xbox One through complex Developer Mode activation
  • Utilize a PS2 or Xbox emulator on homebrewed consoles (risky!)

Clearly these require modding your systems – which comes with risks like losing online access. I only recommend attempting if you know what you‘re doing! For most, seeking original discs/copies is safest bet.

Should You Bother with Definitive Edition?

I‘ve spent some time playing the 2021 Definitive Edition Trilogy remaster, and it‘s a mixed bag. Here are the key pros and cons based on my experience:

Pros:

  • Enhanced 720p – 4K resolutions
  • Smoother framerates (60FPS)
  • Modernized lighting, textures
  • Achievement support

Cons:

  • Rampant bugs, glitches, crashes
  • Beloved music tracks removed
  • Visual issues like rain indoors
  • Loss of nostalgic PS2 art style
  • Mediocre character models

For me, it fails to capture the magic of the PS2 original. Performance is disappointing given it was rebuilt from scratch. But it may satisfy some wanting updated graphics – albeit still quite dated versus today‘s standards. At $60 I can‘t really recommend it over seeking out the classic.

Breaking Down GTA: San Andreas Sales Figures

Let‘s look at some numbers to appreciate the massive popularity of GTA: San Andreas over the years:

  • 21.5 million copies sold for PS2 alone as of July 2006
  • 12 million on PC, Xbox, and Xbox 360 by 2011
  • Over 43.5 million estimated lifetime sales across all platforms

San Andreas remains the highest selling game ever on PS2 nearly 20 years later. For perspective, the best selling PS4 game (Uncharted 4) currently sits around 16 million. Just an absolute giant of gaming history!

The Legal Gray Area of Downloading Old Games Abandonware

I like to follow gaming law closely as a hobby. Abandonware sites that distribute games the publisher has made unavailable do exist in a legal gray area. Here are some key factors:

  • Copyright technically grants the IP holder rights indefinitely
  • However, companies rarely sue individual downloaders for personal use
  • At most, publishers will go after hosts enabling mass piracy
  • Downloaders are very rarely the legal target

YouTube video game attorney Ryan Morrison has called abandonware downloading "the illegal thing no one cares about". While still technically against the law, it‘s extremely low risk for users. Just make ethical choices!

Frequently Asked Questions

I know you must have plenty of questions about getting the original San Andreas these days. Here are answers to some common FAQs for you:

Q: Can I still buy it on Steam or modern consoles?
A: Unfortunately no. Only Definitive Editions now.

Q: What about on PS3 or Xbox 360?

A: Also removed now, sadly!

Q: Is the mobile port the original?
A: Nope, mobile is the updated "Remastered" version.

Q: Does the Definitive fix issues in original?
A: It actually has way more technical problems itself!

Q: Can I mod original San Andreas into GTA V?
A: You can via complex modding but would lose online access.

Let me know if you have any other questions! Always happy to dig into the details and research to help fellow gamers.

Relive This Golden Age Open World Classic

I hope all this info helps you rediscover the magic of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, my friend. It‘s a crime that Rockstar removed the ability to buy it digitally, but thankfully there are still ways to get your hands on this masterpiece. With some effort, every gamer owes it to themselves to revisit the streets of Los Santos and experience San Andreas in its full 2004 glory at least once more! See you around the Grove Street cul-de-sac, CJ.