Online Multiplayer – A Mixed Bag
A Spotty History
As the market shifts more and more into the world of online multiplayer, each new round of major releases is followed shortly after by a series of unanticipated problems. Anyone around for the SimCity always-online disaster is familiar with the issues at hand.
Before that, international gaming Goliath Blizzard saw unprecedented backlash during the launch of its much-anticipated Diablo III title and, indeed, found itself embroiled in lawsuits and a raid on its South Korean head office when fans couldn’t use the products they had purchased.
When Grand Theft Auto: V launched earlier this year, apart from the groundbreaking size, scope and interactivity of its in-game world, a large part of its hype was rooted in its promise of an online multiplayer experience.
Rockstar, producers of the acclaimed and often controversial Grand Theft Auto series, took some time in rolling out the online multiplayer functionality but, like many major titles before it, its flagship online voyage hit a few snags.
As listed on Rockstar’s support site, support.rockstargames.com, players looking to dive into GTA: V’s online environment were met with a host of issues ranging from freezes and endless loading screens, if they were lucky enough to connect, to host, session and timeout errors preventing any access at all.
Mission bugs abounded, and many players took to the Internet seeking guidance from Rockstar concerning their problems. And miraculously, where other companies like EA and Blizzard compounded their mistakes by floundering in their responses to customer concerns, Rockstar was quick to spring to action.
Apart from the article on Rockstar’s support site, it issued repeated assurances to fans that employees were working around the clock to identify and resolve the issues post-haste. Fixes regarding PlayStation Network limitations have already been rolled out, and others are expected to be up for download any day now.
The Final Word
Offering online multiplayer to the writhing mass of the modern gaming populous is no small feat, and many companies have lost a great deal of their credibility in their attempts to enter that market. Although Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: V encountered some problems, Rockstar’s transparency and continued contact throughout its debugging process are nothing short of praiseworthy.
Add in the fact that this represents Rockstar’s first real attempt at online multiplayer of this scale, and suddenly its reaction time puts it a step ahead of industry giants like Blizzard and EA, who had prior experience in online multiplayer and still dropped the ball.