"Grand Theft Auto Online," the online multiplayer component of "Grand Theft Auto V," got off to a bumpy start this week after it launched on Oct. 1, with numerous problems, including delays in the site loading and saving players' progress. But now developer and publisher Rockstar Games says that many of the common problems that gamers have been reporting could be resolved as early as Friday.
"The latest title update for 'GTA Online' is live for PlayStation 3. We're working to have this up for Xbox 360 as soon as possible today," the Rockstar said on its website for the game's launch updates Friday.
Rockstar launched "GTA Online" through the online section of "GTA V" two weeks after the initial release of the latest installment in its wildly popular and often controversial Grand Theft Auto series. Last week, the company warned its legions of "GTA V" fans that "GTA Online" might hit some snags due to the "unanticipated" pressure that came from the game's better-than-expected sales. "Grand Theft Auto V" made more than $800 million in sales in its first day on the market, crossing the $1 billion mark in just three days.
"GTA Online" had a less auspicious debut, however. Many gamers playing "GTA V" on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles said they were unable to access "GTA Online" at all for hours at a time. When they did manage to get into the online game, players identified numerous bugs and glitches such as missions failing to load properly, getting stuck on loading screens, or having their sessions time out and being booted back to the menu screen.
Since "GTA Online," like "GTA V," is a game that tracks players' progress over time — gradually improving a character's skills and allowing them to collect virtual items and in-game currency — the performance issues only make fans more reticent to delve into the new game for fear of losing the time they'd put into it.
"All of these initial technical issues will be ironed out as soon as we can," Rockstar said in its update.
Rockstar is no doubt anxious to get "GTA Online" up and running smoothly in the time for the weekend when gamers will have their first chance to really sink their teeth into the new multiplayer mode.
Rockstar said in its Friday post that a PlayStation 3 update is already live, with the Xbox 360 one coming "as soon as possible today."
All of these performance issues are only made more glaring by the fact that "GTA Online," by all accounts, is a really good game once it's up and running properly. In its review of the online game published Friday, gaming site IGN said, "The current situation with GTA Online hasn’t changed much since launch: it’s enormous fun when it works, but right now it barely works."
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.