At around 7am yesterday, Rockstar finally unveiled the online portion of GTA 5 aptly titled “GTA Online.” An undertaking unlike anything they’ve ever done, Rockstar is essentially transforming GTA into an MMORPG. Rockstar loaded GTA online with 500 missions, co-operative heists, online rankings, crews, and real estate, seemingly ready to take online multiplayer to new heights. Unfortunately, the servers weren’t ready for such an ambitious undertaking. For one of the biggest releases in gaming this year, Rockstar screwed the pooch on this one. Big time.
Multiplayer shooters like Battlefield, Call of Duty, Killzone, Dust 514, so on and so forth, have made it part of their process to include beta testing for the online portion of their games. Companies can go through all the appropriate prep work to test servers, but all of it will pale in comparison to a real-world trial run. Take for example Bungie’s recent comments in how they’re treating the beta testing for their newest game, Destiny. Bungie said they’re treating it as a “full product launch …We can’t just carve out three competitive multiplayer maps this time around.” Bungie, rightfully, assumes the interest for Destiny will be huge and they can’t afford to fail or drop the ball with the online portion of the game. Beta testing with actual people will prepare them for the million or so people overloading their servers. Something GTA Online would’ve benefitted from.
You think Bungie is gambling with this?
Admittedly, most of my frustration with Rockstar is born out of impatience. I’m ready to get this show on the road. I’m ready to start building my character. I’m ready for co-operative heists and mayhem. Rockstar knew it had one of the most hyped releases for the year. They also knew what they were doing online was ambitious. An online beta of some sort would’ve paid dividends when it came to real world testing of the servers. A simple wipe of the stats after the beta period was over would’ve cleared up any advantage given for early access and as a result, a much smoother release would’ve happened yesterday. As it stands, Rockstar dropped the ball. And there’s really no excuse for it.