Rockstar explains Grand Theft Auto Online's release date

By Luke Caulfield , Updated Sep 30, 2013 11:55 AM EDT
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Rockstar wowed the gaming and non-gaming world alike this month when sales of Grand Theft Auto 5 managed to crack the billion dollar mark in the game's first week of release.

With each new GTA game that's release, Rockstar seems to outdo itself every time. But here's the rub. The GTA series has long and widely been known as a single player experience. Even though the company tried a bit of multiplayer experimentation with GTA IV, as Rockstar VP Dan House admitted to Polygon, "Not everybody, not even with Call of Duty, not everyone is playing the multiplayer.

"There's a huge audience for people who love single-player adventures. And I think what we make is action adventure-games. Games with ever stronger mechanics and an ever stronger adventure component."

So why the switch? That should be obvious. As GTA gets more and more popular, hitting greater numbers with each iteration, the player base is obviously expanding, and Houser and Rockstar are doing their best to appeal to the growing number of players by making every facet of the series available online, with emphasis on one in particular.

"...the people that like death matches, there are still death match, there are still races," Houser stated. "But we are trying to glue the whole thing together by bringing the free roam component to life, which would give us the stuff that we really like from open world." That's what Houser seems to be focused on, and arguably what's made the GTA games so successful, not to mention copied, the wondrous amount of player choice and ability to explore an open world, or, what Houser calls "digital tourism."

"Even the best fantasy movies or any set in a movie that builds a world beautifully, any book that puts you in a world in a beautiful way, can't do it with the same power that games have to actually put you in that world and explore it at your speed, in your way, doing the things you want to do," he explained.

So now you see the focus. But why the delay between the single player GTA V and its online arm? Surely with roughly five years of development the company had enough time to iron out all the kinks.

True, and it's not due to some sort of last minute addition of technical glitches that Grand Theft Auto Online had to wait a bit before players got to experience it. As a matter of fact, it was about making things easier on the player.

The game's campaign was meant to acclimate players into the world of Los Santos, the biggest GTA environment yet. As anyone who went from one mode to the other in GTA IV, the experience could be a bit jarring, which was worrisome to Houser this time around. Apparently, a big complaint of players was they would "try it for two minutes, it's hard to connect because it's day one, and back you go to the single player, play that and never go back into playing online."

With the delay, it forced players not to get lost in the campaign, and forget about the online part altogether. This way, "[y]ou can start multiplayer after two weeks and it will really give them a real focus on where to look at the thing. I think that separating it out will just help people look at it as different products in their own mind a bit more and really give it a good chance to try and play it and enjoy it."

Understand? Good. If not, you will, because Grand Theft Auto Online is out tomorrow, October 1st. See you there...

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