Update: So things seem to be improving a little bit and it definitely appears that folks on Xbox Live are having an easier time of it than folks on PSN. On PSN I’ve yet to able to get in via the full online experience but I’ve had limited success going in via the main start menu, going to the online tab and then picking “Play GTA Online” and then picking solo session. That at least got me into Los Santos and up to the first mission before it crashed. No luck past that, I’m on PSN by the way. Anybody on PSN get further than that?
As explained in our post last night, Grand Theft Auto Online went live this morning at 7AM EST as expected. And as expected by most, the launch has some issues, the big one being that lots of folks can’t actually play it or create their character. Lots of folks are getting alerts about Rockstar’s servers being unavailable and needing to create temporary characters and such. After that, several people including myself end up creating the temp character and attempting to join GTA Online to find that after several minutes of trying, it crashes out and takes you back to the story mode and tells you to try again later. Other times when I try to go to it, it just gets stuck on this black screen and I have to actually quit the game to get out of it.
Now I’m not going to single Rockstar out here but this is unacceptable. This may be the most massive online game launch ever and to say that you aren’t prepared for the volume of users is ridiculous. They even gave themselves more time by not launching the online component at the same time as the game’s release. I predicted in our post last night that they would have issues, but I was hoping that Rockstar would prove me wrong. I wish just one major developer would prove me wrong when it comes to a competent online launch for a major title. I understand that things like this happen, but as a technologist I’ll tell you they don’t have to be a forgone conclusion. With the amount of time Rockstar had between the game’s launch and now, they had a pretty good idea of how many people on this game. When determining launch capacity, make that the high watermark, assume every single user is going to try to log in at the exact same time. With the advent of cloud computing and virtual infrastructure, it is possible to acquire the necessary computing resources to do something of that scale at a reasonable price. Issues like this don’t have to happen.
For their part, as you might expect Rockstar is working it and noted there could be issues but this is extremely disappointing. We are hearing that some of you have actually got into the game and have been able to do at least some basic things, please let us know what you think so far in the comments. As for the folks like me who can’t get in, bookmark this post and we’ll keep you updated as things progress.