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The worst decisions Rockstar made for GTA 5

Grand Theft Auto is one of the most successful video game franchises. Ever. Released in 2013, GTA 5 has not only outsold every individual Mario title, but has netted higher sales figures than any movie in history. This is no small feat for Rockstar, given the fifth installment in the franchise has also outperformed all previous Grand Theft Auto titles by a landslide. 

GTA 5 remains a smash hit, even years later. Despite this, if you look back at Grand Theft Auto 5 since its launch, you will find plenty of issues, bugs, and downright questionable decisions on Rockstar's part. From a buggy online mode to subpar control mechanics and benevolent gestures gone wrong, gamers have been willing to overlook a lot while playing this revered title. But they're not letting the company off the hook completely. 

Here are the worst decisions Rockstar made for Grand Theft Auto 5.

Raking in the microtransactions

Though many gamers may not love microtransactions, the numbers don't lie. According to an IGN interview with Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick, "recurrent consumer spending" made up 42% of the company's earnings in the quarter preceding the article. With nearly half of the revenue coming in from such a business model, it's difficult to avoid the practice entirely. Microtransactions have changed the Grand Theft Auto series, and will likely have an effect on what GTA 6 will look like upon its release. 

While microtransactions may be great for video game companies, they are not ideal for gamers. The practice opens the door for publishers to release a title that feels incomplete, doling out additional features to eager players who want a better experience. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) can pressure consumers to spend money on something like a skin or another element that may not add much to the experience otherwise. 

Microtransactions also give companies an opportunity to strip away components from a game and then later release them as paid content. As the Grand Theft Auto series continues to lean on microtransactions for revenue, gamers will likely have to grin and bear it.

Overlooking the shooting mechanics

The Grand Theft Auto games give you the opportunity to play as a bad guy. And as a bad guy, you get to do all of the things you can't do in real life: steal cars, pull off heists, get into fist fights, and shoot guns. And being such a prominent feature, you would think — or hope, at least — Rockstar would nail the shooting mechanics. But sadly, that is far from the case.

Offering three different aiming modes, it's almost comical that Rockstar has managed to botch each one. When playing in free-aim mode, you are plagued by an inconsistent and inaccurate reticle for aiming your weapon, sluggish movements, and a counter-intuitive interface. 

You also have two different forms of aim-assist, both of which automatically take control of your gun and lock onto your target so you don't have to. The problem with this feature is it makes shooting too easy, downing your enemies with a simple press of a button. Such a means of gunplay is very unsatisfying and can undermine your overall experience. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to shooting in Grand Theft Auto 5, either your porridge is too hot or it's too cold. There is no "just right."

Economy design and in-game inflation

Money plays an important role in GTA Online. It's essential if you want to customize, buy items like vehicles, and take part in all the fun the world has to offer. And unfortunately, data confirms that prices are going up while payouts are failing to keep up. Much like in the real world.

To make matters worse, there's a theory floating around that this in-game inflation has been a nefarious plot by Rockstar to crash the economy in GTA Online so it can make way for Grand Theft Auto 6. While this is just speculation, the inflation in GTA Online is still a major problem. 

It makes sense for Rockstar to maintain the challenge in purchasing new items, incentivizing players to keep coming back, but there has to be some kind of balance. While new updates have made it easier to make quick cash, prices are so prohibitive that players can't keep up.

Waiting almost six years to add the casino

After a long day of heists and robberies, there's nothing like spending an evening gambling all your spoils away. At least after July 23, 2019. You read that right. It was nearly six years after Grand Theft Auto 5 launched before its user base experienced the long-awaited Diamond Casino & Resort, where players can engage in card games, slots, horse racing, and more. 

This wasn't just dropped out of nowhere. Fans of the series have been anticipating a casino since GTA 5 launched. So, why the long wait?

Data mining efforts have revealed plans as early as 2013 to add a casino to the game, and in 2014 it seemed to tie into a potential single-player DLC story pack. However, with the success of GTA Online, single-player expansions were dropped, causing further delay to this legendary location. Much of the content from those scrapped DLC packs have since been released through a series of updates, leading to the opening of the Diamond Casino & Resort.

While there were also legal hurdles to overcome with regards to online gambling, developers were finally able to figure out how to make it work. But that doesn't mean players forgive Rockstar for making them wait so long.

Launching GTA Online before it was ready

GTA Online is known for its plethora of bugs and glitches. While the results can be amusing, more often than not those problems lead to frustration. Rockstar has been diligent in releasing patches, though considering how the platform had such a rocky start, one must wonder if the company launched GTA Online before it was fully baked.

Right off the bat, gamers anxious to get going with GTA Online were disappointed by the abundance of issues, including loading timeouts, getting stuck in tutorial races, disconnections, instant mission fails, and more. Another major problem resulted in the loss of player data. This included everything from money, rank, and — for some less fortunate players — even an entire character. In addition to patches, Rockstar attempted to ease the problem by offering some fairly specific workarounds. 

The company had anticipated issues at launch due to projected user traffic, which is even more reason why it needed to get its act together before releasing this service to the public. Despite the early challenges it faced, Rockstar has managed to achieve unprecedented success with GTA Online.

Poor representation of female characters

Diversity and representation are critically important, and both play essential roles in the arts. Art can convey powerful messages, influencing individuals in ways nothing else can. Most agree video games should be regarded as art, and while the Grand Theft Auto series' artistic merits may be questionable, the games can still have an effect on players' perspectives, even in a subtle way.

The GTA series has a track record of portraying female characters in a poor light. Even when justifying the game's tone as that of satire, the representation of women in Grand Theft Auto 5 has made many uncomfortable. Serving as strippers, prostitutes, and insignificant side characters, outlets like The Telegraph suggest the women in the game were made to be objects for the male-dominated cast.

One solution gamers have suggested is to offer a female protagonist in the next installment. According to Grantland's Molly Lambert, Rockstar's decision to exclude female playable characters suggests women can't be criminals in the same way as their male counterparts, perpetuating inequality. Perhaps the company can make more progressive strides with GTA 6 and finally introduce a female character to take the lead.

Online Saving Fail

If all the previously mentioned issues with GTA Online weren't enough, gamers also get to experience that dreadful "saving failed" message. Believe it or not, this problem persisted many years after GTA Online's launch, leaving the possibility of such a failure looming at every moment. It threatens to vanquish your unsaved progress and earnings, whether playing by yourself or with others. And being entirely at the mercy of the internet and Rockstar's servers, there isn't much that can be done to prevent this message from appearing. 

At the very least, auto-save happens at fairly regular intervals, so you likely won't lose all of your progress. Sometimes you can wait out the error, however, you may want to log out until the issue is resolved to prevent any further unsaved progress. Of course, if you're looking for a workaround, you may be able to trigger an auto-save by initiating a police chase, then successfully shaking them off your tail. 

While it may be tough for servers to keep up with all the user traffic, Rockstar could definitely stand to improve the experience, considering its continued financial success with GTA Online.

The gift that keeps on giving

What could possibly be wrong with free money? How could this in any way be a bad decision on Rockstar's part? Well, you'd better believe it, because the company screwed this one up as well.

In April 2020, Rockstar offered its users a one-time login bonus of $500,000, but considering how glitchy GTA Online can be, something was bound to go wrong. And indeed it did. Some lucky players were surprised with multiple login bonuses, receiving as many as three $500,000 deposits. But encountering a congratulatory message for the free bonus did not always yield the promised prize. And while fortune may have smiled upon some users, others were not so lucky. 

Those less fortunate gamers were not granted even their first bonus, creating an unfair playing field. Perhaps the players who were blessed with multiple payments received them at the expense of those who gained nothing. Whatever the case may be, you can add this bug to the long list of problems with Rockstar's online service for Grand Theft Auto 5.

Giving GTA 5 away for free

When it comes to GTA 5, it seems Rockstar has embodied the saying "no good deed goes unpunished." The company tries to do some good, yet the gesture backfires. And it all started when the Epic Games Store offered Grand Theft Auto 5 for free.

What may have been a dream come true for some turned into a nightmare for many others, as free downloads of GTA 5 opened the door for hackers galore. And though its online platform has always been susceptible to hacking, the problem has grown significantly since the free release. Some mods can be harmless and amusing, but others can ruin a player's experience entirely, including game-crashing mods, the ability to trap other players, and even bothering users who just want to enjoy themselves in single-player modes.

Once again, Rockstar failed to regulate its Wild West of an online platform, leaving gamers vulnerable to an unpredictable experience. The company has taken ownership and responsibility in the past to clean up its mess, but it seems to be a recurring theme with Grand Theft Auto 5.

Requiring an internet connection to play single-player

Sometimes you just want to kick back, relax, and enjoy a nice, peaceful single-player experience that isn't plagued by all the bugs that come along with Grand Theft Auto Online. But for a time, you even had to connect to the internet to play single-player portion of GTA 5 by yourself.

Following the lead of other major gaming publishers, Rockstar introduced its own Launcher in 2019 as a way to maximize profits on its digital sales. Soon after the Rockstar Games Launcher went live, yet another bug made its way into the single-player game, which forced users to connect to the internet any time they wanted to play solo.

Rockstar did fix this issue — however, it did not untether gamers from an internet connection entirely. Although you can technically play single-player offline, the game has to open through the Launcher, which does need internet access. So yeah, it would appear you're still going to have to be plugged in if you want to play single-player GTA 5. Thanks Rockstar!

GTA Online is ruining the base game

Some fans of the series may remember fondly the days before Grand Theft Auto Online took center stage. Sure, GTA Online brought new levels of success to the series, making Rockstar obscene amounts of money, but there are some aspects of the online experience that just don't live up to the simplicity of the base game.

With a growing hacker problem, gamers can no longer turn to their single-player campaign for safety, and Rockstar is limited in its effectiveness against these devious trolls. But the issue goes even deeper than those crafty users spoiling everyone else's fun. There's an element of grinding involved in the online landscape that can turn off some gamers who just want to enjoy GTA's story.

When you engage in activities like business ventures, you'll begin to feel the game becomes repetitive. The base game, on the other hand, offers the kind of immersion and fine details you simply won't see in GTA Online. While there might be a ton to do, after a while you may grow tired of repeating similar missions and objectives. And now that Rockstar has shifted all its focus on GTA Online, the community no longer sees new story content.

Alien Invasion in GTA 5

There's a war raging in the GTA community — one that is out of this world! And in a game where anything goes, it was only a matter of time before alien antics exploded onto the scene.

With the Arena Wars addition several years ago, Rockstar added skin-tight alien costumes to its apparel catalog. In May of 2020, a bizarre trend surfaced where gangs of trouble-causing players wearing green extra-terrestrial suits banded together to unleash random acts of chaos upon innocent gamers. What began as a simple unified act of delinquency broke out into an all-out war after a faction of purple aliens appeared to fight back, mostly to defend users from the green aliens. Whatever the case may be, if you haven't aligned yourself with a side, you may want to stay out of their way, lest you get caught in the crossfire.

If that's not enough trouble, it would appear as though Rockstar fed the madness by briefly offering the once-pricey outfits for free and discounting its laser weapons. Tsk tsk Rockstar — you should know better than to encourage this type of behavior. But it is amusing, so perhaps you deserve some slack on this one.

Taking so long to implement first-person view

In a video game universe that's as immersive as Grand Theft Auto, you would think an option for first-person view would have made sense long ago. But Rockstar didn't seem to have the foresight to offer such an obvious feature until Grand Theft Auto 5. And not even upon its release!

Fans of the series had to settle for a third-person-only game if they bought GTA 5 for PS3 or Xbox 360, though a year later when it was ported over to the next console generation, Rockstar finally added first-person perspective. Why the long wait?

GTA 5 animation director Rob Nelson credited the lack of first-person functionality in the initial release to a lack of time and hardware capacity. He and his team wanted to make sure all the in-game graphics were up to snuff so it would pass the test as players got up close and personal from a first-person perspective. So essentially, it was perfectionism that kept Xbox 360 and PS3 users from enjoying this feature. But even beyond Grand Theft Auto 5, one must wonder where the first-person view was for all the other games in the series.

Online matches take too long to load

When you're settling in for a nice relaxing night of gaming with friends and strangers across the net, the last thing you want to do is waste time waiting for your game to load. But if you frequent Grand Theft Auto Online, you're no stranger to long loading periods.

For some, having to wait for a game to load can be enough to ruin the experience entirely. PC Gamer's Chris Livingston expresses how detrimental the whole process is to his enjoyment of GTA Online. Having to wait for a long duration until the connection times out, dropping him into single-player briefly, then returning him to Online after finally connecting has pretty much turned him off to a multiplayer arena he otherwise enjoys. Rockstar took note and released a patch to improve sluggish load times, but it hasn't fixed the issue entirely. 

According to an article on Gamer Journalist published in May of 2020, users were experiencing extreme wait times once again. In some cases, the game would fail to load entirely. Much of the slowdown then was understandably caused by increased traffic from the Epic Games Store's free GTA 5 giveaway. Reports from players, however, suggest that loading times are still hit or miss to this day.