Since the Sept. 17 release of Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V, millions of gamers have been eagerly awaiting the launch of Grand Theft Auto Online, a massive multiplayer online game bundled with the main game that debuted Oct. 2. But excitement has quickly given way to disappointment because the game was riddled with malfunctions. As a result, the game's developer, Rockstar, has become the target of heavy scorn from the very people who most anticipated its product.
Online forums, including Rockstar Support, have been flooded with complaints of online gamers losing created character data, having hardware issues with game consoles or lacking the ability to join the game at all. The general feeling through GTA forums is disappointment, with a substantial dose of outrage from gamers whose progress was lost despite their oversized time investment.
In fact, on the Rockstar Support forum, one particularly frustrated person went so far as to suggest a lawsuit. “Has anyone here talked about taking legal action against Rockstar yet?," the post said. "If so, I'd love to join a legal case against them .?.?. I took a week off work to build my character, so this has cost me a lot of real money! Must be close to 40-50 hours spent building my character.”
Grand Theft Auto V scored more than $1 billion in sales in its first three days on the market and broke six different Guinness video game sales records including Best-selling video game in 24 hours, so the interest in the game is indisputable. And the online component was likely a factor in that success; the Internet was buzzing with talk of the first online game in GTA history long before its launch.
GTA Online does have a lot to offer. Players create characters, selecting everything from their genealogy to their favorite hobbies, and deploy them to explore the fictional world and interact with others. But as the gameplay loading screen appears -- the very moment a gamer's anticipation climaxes -- the server disconnects and forces users to redo the process. Time and time again.
In a statement released days after the GTA Online launch, Rockstar said technicians were working to fix the login errors and streamline servers to accommodate the millions of players. In addition to login issues, gamers came forward claiming their characters were being erased by the online component, and for some, glitches even infiltrated the main Grand Theft Auto V game.
To ease gamers’ collective pain, Rockstar announced during the second week of October that a stimulus package of $500,000 will be granted in the online bank accounts of anyone that has played, or will play, GTA Online during the month of October.
Rockstar intended to profit heavily off this in-game money -- charging users $15 in real dollars to access $500,000 in game dollars to use for weapons and cars -- but issues with the game has made Rockstar think again. Rockstar disabled the real-money transaction features on GTA Online a week before the stimulus announcement, most likely to avoid complaints of players losing real money, in addition to their time, to faulty servers.
We recently ran through the online game and found there are still some noticeable problems that need to be worked out. Rockstar has been issuing game updates that can be downloaded directly to home consoles in an attempt to alleviate gamer issues and plans to release another update before the end of the month.
But considering the nearly unmatched popularity of the GTA brand, Rockstar should have been prepared for the high demand. Millions of gamers feel let down by the game’s issues, and $500,000 in funny money comes as little solace.