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Old 10-06-2013   #1
rappo
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OPINION: Why has Rockstar Games failed so miserably?

Five days into the launch of GTA: Online and three weeks since the game was released worldwide, the online experience is quite simply trash. Day one connectivity issues let hardly anyone enjoy GTA: Online on the first day, and since then several patches and what I'm sure have been countless hours of network debugging and development work on Rockstar's part have not changed the fact that the online play is unenjoyable.

I was one of the seemingly few that got to start GTA: Online in the first couple days of its launch - playing at night in Pacific Standard Time made sure that few international players were hogging up precious bandwidth. Even then, between one and two hours of sitting in front of my Xbox 360 yielded about 30 minutes of actual gameplay. Endless loading screens and frustrating game restarts took up the rest. I hoped that installing the latest patch would fix my issues, but all it did was erase my online persona, forcing me to start from square one... if anything would even load.


Why did this happen in the first place?

It was no secret to anyone, least of all Rockstar Games, how many copies of GTA V were sold. Even before GTA: Online's release, Rockstar broke the $1 billion sales mark. I'm sure that such a huge release warrants a reach-out from Microsoft and Sony to game developers in order to make sure that their online experience is fully optimized to support the expected load. Clearly this didn't work, and the users are being kept in the dark about where the fault is - the game developers, Rockstar Social Club network administrators, whatever CDN is serving up this content? Who is to blame, and why don't the paying customers have any visibility into this massive miscalculation?

Why is this still happening?

Two patches haven't fixed the underlying issues with GTA: Online, but they also haven't even introduced work-arounds. Rockstar Games undoubtedly knows that there are loading issues - why can't I back out of it? One of the two patches could have at least introduced a cancel button, and I would be infinitely less frustrated while trying to join a game. Instead, the game "freezes" (but not actually, because the weather is clearly changing in the background aerial view of Los Santos), forcing the user to restart.

When I'm having connectivity issues and unable to join any game, I can see that a lot of my Xbox Live friends are successfully playing GTA: Online. This should at least give Rockstar Games some sort of hint at the actual problem - maybe it's related to console version, maybe Cloud Saved Games vs. Hard Drive, maybe it's regional. While I'd love for all the issues to be resolved in one swoop, I realize that it's not always possible. Why not then take baby steps into enhancing the experience while the root causes are sorted out?

Why is content being lost?

In the age of the "cloud" and countless caching and storage techniques, why are we seeing lost content? Why are some users forced to create their online characters multiple times, when they've definitely been able to use these characters online at least once, thus assumedly storing them on Rockstar's servers permanently? I'd be more forgiving of a low budget game, but this is not how a billion dollar sale should play out. We wouldn't accept a blockbuster movie release that kicked you out of the theater 15 minutes into the film, and we would be furious with Facebook if we logged in one day to find our profiles wiped out. How is Rockstar getting away with this?

I'm a long-time GTA and Rockstar fan, as well as a huge fan of GTA V's story mode, but I'm currently losing a lot of respect for the franchise. Whining on the first day of release may sound like entitlement, but a week later and players all over the world who paid between $60 and $200 for this game still can't have smooth online play - that's simply outrageous, and I personally feel scammed.
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Old 10-06-2013   #2
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Rappo, you're only touching the surface of the problem. Once you get past the connectivity issues, character deletions, lost money, lost weapon upgrades, lost cars, etc there's still a lot of problems with the online experience mainly related to playing with friends and making money. My Xbox friends and I are well into our rank 30s and 40s, with quite a few of us having between $500,000 to $1,000,000, I say this to prove that we have access to a lot of the game's features and can form a reasoned opinion.

Here's the two biggest problems I see with this game right now:

Hard to Play with Crew/Friends
- When you set your car to "crew only", "friends only", "friends + crew", they can't get in the car. If you set it to "everyone" they can get in but then a troll can also steal your car.
- When you create a Crew/Friends/Invite private session, you can invite players into it. But if you go into any job and come back to free roam, you're most likely going to get split up and not come back to the same free roam.
- Welcome to 5-10 minutes of trying to get back into the same session, hopefully no one has R* cloud server errors.
- When you're hosting a private match and you set matchmaking to "closed" so your friends can get in, it still lets random ass players in.
- Furthermore, the host has no way of kicking out these randys taking up a slot.
- Even further, to date (rank 45) we have only seen one 6 player mission, most others are 4 players max when we typically have 8 players online, so it forces us to split up into groups instead of playing together.
- Again, welcome to 5-10 minutes of trying to get back into the same session, hopefully no one has R* cloud server errors.
- There's no easy way to invite your friends & crew members into jobs. You can mass invite them but you can't individually select who you want to join. Most of us end up finding the player name and "join in session" via Xbox Live rather than using Rockstar's in-game method. This one seems like a no brainer to be able to select who you want to invite.
- Once again, welcome to 5-10 minutes of trying to get back into the same session, hopefully no one has R* cloud server errors.
- You can't set your apartment or garage to "friends only" or "crew only". Why the hell not? So I bought this $400,000 apartment to share and my friends can only go inside if I'm already inside.


Can't Make Decent Money
- Everything in the game is so god damned expensive.. the apartments, the guns and upgrades, the car mods.. yet there's no way to make this kind of money. Especially when you start looking at the vehicle websites that want hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars.
- Today I spent over $100k just to fully upgrade a couple weapons, this is ridiculous
- Most of the harder missions take too long and don't give a large enough payout to be worth it, so we end up grinding the same big cash missions on repeat for money (Violent Duct)
- There's not really an incentive to beat the harder & lower paying missions because it's rank-based not progression-based. If they unlocked better jobs then it would be different but they don't. So why play a harder mission that barely pays your medical bills when you can grind an easy one for more money.
- This goes along with the playing with friends but also money related.. because they don't have more 6 player & 8 player missions, you can't help lower ranked people get rank and money. Once we open up a cash grinding room only 4 of us can fit in there and we have to rotate people in or try to start a separate room. If they allowed more people in then we could play together and make money together.
- There's a stupid ass $5,000 limit on how much money I can gift. I have over $800,000 why am I maxed at giving $5,000 to someone? Why can't I donate more money to a new player to help get them get better weapons and car to use?
- We bought the most expensive apartments but they don't unlock any better jobs or heists even though Lester says they do.
- Why aren't heists in the game? Mostly everybody I know wanted to play online to do these big jobs together, nobody cares about the deathmatch and races. There's only so much we can do right now and it's getting old fast.
- By the way, Lester says there are armored trucks in the game once you hit rank 19, we are in our rank 30s and 40s and have only seen 1 armored truck this whole time and it gave us $8,000 to split 4 ways.
- No online stock market even though they said the Bawsaq was connected to the Social Club
- Betting in races is completely bugged even if everybody places a bet
- Playing missions on hard (1.5x RP) does not give 1.5x RP, so there's no point playing on a harder difficulty

It seems that Rockstar promised a lot about what GTA Online would provide... map creation, plan Heists with friends, do big missions with crew members, customize apartment and hang out with friends... and yet none of this is in the game currently. Maybe it's planned for the future but as it stands right now, a lot of us are getting really bored and we will be hopping over to Battlefield 4 pretty soon. The people I play with are pretty dedicated to ranking up and playing together but Rockstar is making it so damn difficult, some of these things are no brainers, so yeah once a better online game comes out I don't see why we would play something as frustrating as this.
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Old 10-06-2013   #3
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but a week later and players all over the world who paid between $60 and $200 for this game still can't have smooth online play - that's simply outrageous, and I personally feel scammed.
This is a mentality about this whole thing that I really don't get, bringing up the price of the game. Because aren't you still buying an awesome single player experience that's worth that amount? I seriously doubt there's a significant portion of the fanbase who bought this game just for online and are not even bothering with story. And isn't all the special edition stuff just for single player mode anyway? So how is that relevant to talking about Online? This is an MMO that's going to be constantly added to, and doesn't cost a subscription fee to play. How about weigh that against your disappointments?

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seems that Rockstar promised a lot about what GTA Online would provide... map creation, plan Heists with friends, do big missions with crew members, customize apartment and hang out with friends... and yet none of this is in the game currently.
I highlighted the important word here.
1. Rockstar has stated that things like heists and mission creation would be coming after the initial release.
2. MMOs are a long term investment. You're not meant to burn through it and see everything there is to see less than a week into the release. Wasn't this supposed to have launched with 500 jobs? I haven't counted, but I have seen more and more stuff the more I level up. Admittedly putting Races and Deathmatch into this category is a bit of a cheat, but there's certainly a lot there to keep me busy when I can play it. If there really is that many jobs, and you've burned through them in 5 days (at least one of which had the game being virtually unplayable) I dunno if that's so much the way it's made as it is you needed to slow down a bit.

As for money...well yeah, of course things cost a lot of money. If you could buy the most expensive stuff so early, what exactly would be driving you to keep making more money? I'm sure heists and the stockmarket will make that potentially easier when they get included, but at least for now there's a good sense of achievement to saving up money. I've skipped buying a garage because I want to get an apartment instead first, so that is motivating me to seek out more lucrative missions and rank up faster. At least you actually GET paid for every successful job in Online compared to the Story Mode constantly dangling that carrot in front of you then pulling it away due to a twist in the story.

Look, I'm not criticising anyone here, I just don't see a need to get angry about or feel ripped off. If I'd never gotten online to work at all, I'd still feel I got my money's worth with GTA V. The problems with online are annoying, to be sure, as I want to go out and do all this, but I don't feel scammed, and I don't think Rockstar have slacked off on this. This is just one of those things that happens with online gaming. Even the giants like Blizzard had problems when they released the last Diablo. It just people invested WAY too much hope in this
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Old 10-06-2013   #4
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Connectivity and user interface isn't that good and I'd like to make easier money with a larger variety of missions but other than that I haven't lost any money or character progression since day one.
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Old 10-06-2013   #5
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I haven't lost anything so far either, and I actually had alot of fun with the gametypes. I like the slow progression with money, atleast it'll mean something when you're driving around your 1 million dollar car. Not like everyone in the game will have one after a week. Those cars are meant to be super rare so I can't blame them for making it so hard to earn so much cash.

So all in all it's been a pretty good experience for me, but then again I wasn't among those who kept losing their progress. I can understand the frustration.
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Old 10-06-2013   #6
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This is a mentality about this whole thing that I really don't get, bringing up the price of the game. Because aren't you still buying an awesome single player experience that's worth that amount? I seriously doubt there's a significant portion of the fanbase who bought this game just for online and are not even bothering with story. And isn't all the special edition stuff just for single player mode anyway? So how is that relevant to talking about Online? This is an MMO that's going to be constantly added to, and doesn't cost a subscription fee to play. How about weigh that against your disappointments?
I didn't pay $60 for just a single-player experience, I factor in the multiplayer mode which allows for continued play even after the story is done. The same went for Max Payne 3, and the same will go for many games to come. GTA: Online is also one of the few reasons I would have for renewing my Xbox Live subscription, since I don't play many other games.

I wouldn't have a problem if Rockstar came forward before October 1 and told us the truth - the online mode is simply not ready. Kyle made a lot of good points about the gameplay, which I've barely experienced and therefore couldn't touch upon. I think they should have just waited until all the features were available before launching - better to delay than put out something frustratingly mediocre. I get that this happens in the gaming industry, but I don't think that's an excuse. That's not the kind of thing you should get with a billion dollar release.
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Old 10-06-2013   #7
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I didn't pay $60 for just a single-player experience, I factor in the multiplayer mode which allows for continued play even after the story is done. The same went for Max Payne 3, and the same will go for many games to come. GTA: Online is also one of the few reasons I would have for renewing my Xbox Live subscription, since I don't play many other games.

I wouldn't have a problem if Rockstar came forward before October 1 and told us the truth - the online mode is simply not ready. Kyle made a lot of good points about the gameplay, which I've barely experienced and therefore couldn't touch upon. I think they should have just waited until all the features were available before launching - better to delay than put out something frustratingly mediocre. I get that this happens in the gaming industry, but I don't think that's an excuse. That's not the kind of thing you should get with a billion dollar release.
They did. They let us know things may not be working great to start but they would be working to resolve issues.
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Old 10-06-2013   #8
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This game should be labeled "GTA Online Beta", but it isn't, so I think our complaints are perfectly valid.
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Old 10-06-2013   #9
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Old 10-06-2013   #10
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And Stu it seems like you didn't read my post because you didn't refute any of the real problems I listed. Aside from all the bugs and stuff like losing characters, money, cars.. (today my garage emptied out all of my cars which had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mods on them and they are totally gone; this also happened to my friend. I also had a friend lose over $300,000 because it didn't save when he logged off). What I listed were core gameplay problems dealing with friends and progression. This game is lacking many of the mechanics that are common sense in online gameplay. It's not about how fast you can acquire end game content... I've played other MMOs for years (this is not really an MMO any more than Battlefield is) and what they do differently is your progression is dependent on you and the time you put in. Here with GTA, all the investment you put in can mean jack shit since the game is against you.
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Old 10-06-2013   #11
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And Stu it seems like you didn't read my post because you didn't refute any of the problems I listed. Aside from all the bugs and stuff like losing characters, money, cars.. (today my garage emptied out all of my cars which had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of mods on them and they are totally gone; this also happened to my friend. I also had a friend lose over $300,000 because it didn't save when he logged off). What I listed were core gameplay problems dealing with friends and progression. This game is lacking many of the mechanics that are common sense in online gameplay. It's not about how fast you can acquire end game content... I've played other MMOs for years (this is not really an MMO any more than Battlefield is) and what they do differently is your progression is dependent on you and the time you put in. Here with GTA, all the investment you put in can mean jack shit since the game is against you.
I didn't refute many of those points because I didn't disagree with them, so I had nothing to say about them. I believe I was pretty specific in what I was talking about(that's what quotes are for), and my general summary is that there seems to be a lot of people writing this game off in the first week(where problems were expected, and warned about by Rockstar), despite the fact it's got a potential lifespan of YEARS. You were saying you were getting bored and that money was hard to come by (though for comparison, in the same time I've had access to online, I'm at rank 11, I've made just over 70 grand and haven't made any major purchases, while you have "over 800,000" and are in "rank 30s and 40s") and that you were annoyed that certain features weren't implemented yet, and I was pointing out that Rockstar has said those things are coming. I believe they even implied in the reveal video that certain things would be rolled out incrementally, rather than all be present from day one. And I'd say it's more MMOis than BF4 is. It's an open world, there's an element of customisation persistence and it's got a story to it. It may not be MASSIVELY Multiplayer, but not just a your typical Multiplayer mode.
Like I said, I'm not having a go at anyone for their opinions. You've certainly expressed them more reasonably and with more of an actual point than some people I've seen online(the worst being the guy on a newswire comments section saying "They made a billion dollars off a demo", which is just a slap in the fact of the WHOLE product, not just online), but I do think a little perspective here would go a long way.

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Old 10-06-2013   #12
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Right, I agree with you there, except for one part. For this game to have a lifespan of YEARS they need to fix these problems fast or people will find another game to play. I know this is GTA's first real attempt at going online but it's just not quite there yet.
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Old 10-06-2013   #13
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Old 10-06-2013   #14
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Ironically this game has the shortest lifespan of an online game I've ever owned this generation. My level 18 or 19 character was magically erased tonight, wiping out all stat progress and properties owned. This completely turned me off from wanting to play this again for a very long time, if ever again. So frustrating.
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Old 10-06-2013   #15
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though for comparison, in the same time I've had access to online, I'm at rank 11, I've made just over 70 grand and haven't made any major purchases, while you have "over 800,000" and are in "rank 30s and 40s"
I saw that you edited your post to add this so I wanted to comment on it. Because you are at rank 11, you haven't experienced the problem with money that I'm talking about. It's sounds like you're saying I think we should have millions of dollars right away, no, I'm saying that the money should scale according to your rank and mission difficulty. Right now people are grinding the Gerald mission called "Violent Duct" because it's the only way to make real money right now. It's a level 15 mission but people who are level 40 and higher are not doing level 40+ missions, they are doing a lvl 15 mission, because based on time and payout it's the most efficient mission. That's messed up... I even made a video of this to illustrate the problem, it's in another thread.
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