OCT. 11, 2013 • Less than a month after launching the Grand Theft Auto Online component of Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar Games is sending large amounts of in-game cash to players to help make up for technical problems in the MMO. GTA Online has experienced technical glitches that resulted in the loss of player characters, disappearing items paid for by users such as upgraded cars, and server outages. Rockstar intends to make two GTA$250,000 payments to everyone who has played GTA Online before the end of October. The total of GTA$500,000 will arrive via player in-game GTA Online bank accounts. The first payment will be made after the next game update that also patches glitches users have experienced.
Impact: Although players can buy in-game cash for GTA Online with real money, it can take a lot of effort to accumulate currency by completing missions. Losing those funds to technical issues has angered a large swath of those who have bought the title. Connection issues are one thing, but losing characters or items that players have invested currency into cannot be smoothed over by typical MMO salves such as free trinkets. As no subscription is required to play GTA Online, neither do players have use for other tried-and-true offerings such as extra game time to make up for server downtime. Given the thug milieu of the Grand Theft Auto universe, laying out substantial in-game cash to players not only restores lost funds, doing so also fits in superbly with the ethos of the game. Rockstar knows its audience, and also seems to have a handle on what it takes to run a game as a service in situations like these – be communicative, acknowledge problems up front, encourage comment, and kick back something special as a sign of good faith. Launching any online game comes with its own set of birthing nightmares, yet Rockstar is proving very adept at smoothing out the impact of those launch issues.