You have to respect Rockstar for releasing GTA Online as straight-up GTA Online and not some milksop hedge like “GTA Online Beta.” Lesser companies do that for months or years while taking your money to play; Rockstar launched Grand Theft Auto V‘s online mode weeks after the game came out and lets you access it at leisure for nothing.
Given that, I consider GTA Online an afterthought to the game’s $60 upfront outlay. GTA V, which is what most — if not all — players are dropping money to play, is a sprawling behemoth of a game. Say what you will about its existential import; if we tied what a company charged for this amount of content at this refinement level to the perceived consumer value of said product, the sticker tag price would rise like a ball hit by Chris Davis into the stratosphere.
So when GTA Online crashed and burned on October 1, launching to the lonely, plasticky sound of a zillion players click-click-clicking through errors like “Alert: Failed to join Job or Activity. Return to GTA Online” and “Alert: There has been an error joining a session,” I didn’t sweat it. Obamacare’s online exchange (ironically) launched on October 1 as well and also ran headlong into a hornet’s nest of accessibility problems. Massively anticipated products anyone can access at the click of a button tend to have capacity issues. It’s where we live, info-tech-wise, circa 2013.
But no, to help ease our pain, Rockstar says it’s going to plug $500,000 in GTA bucks (GTA$) into the accounts of “all who have played or will play Grand Theft Auto Online this month” — a “stimulus package,” if you will.
In order to keep the current worldwide in-game economy balanced, we will be providing this GTA$ to players via two deposits of $250,000. We will announce specific dates as soon as possible, but are currently hoping to be able to make the first deposit by the end of next week (after we’ve confirmed that issues causing game progress loss have been fixed) with the second installment to happen by the end of the month. For players who experienced cloud server errors, connection issues, and lost game progress and characters in these first days of GTA Online, we hope this GTA$ helps to facilitate a fresh start or makes your continued life in Los Santos and Blaine County extra sweet.
Great, thanks a bunch, Rockstar, but I don’t want the extra cash and never expected placation for your glitchy side-feature launch. Given GTA$’s centrality to the game, I’d rather earn it on the game’s terms, not yours. You’ve already fixed most of the online experience anyway. No need to bribe your base — though…if you’re really making another existentially nihilistic point, that every grumbler has their price, what can I say? High five.