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GTA V Online hits some early bumps in the road

Copies of Grand Theft Auto V are displayed at the 8 Bit & Up video games shop in Manhattan's East Village on Sept. 18, 2013 in New York. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Rockstar Games launched its Grand Theft Auto V online multiplayer title Tuesday, but the excited players who streamed in to get some playtime before (or in lieu of) work were too much for the company’s servers. Unable to handle the influx of traffic, the servers got overloaded, and some players found they couldn’t even log on to the game.

Given that GTAV generated more than $1 billion in revenue in just three days, excitement about the online title was a given. But while the game company was expecting a lot of players, its preparation obviously wasn’t enough.

The company was quick to address the complaints popping up on Twitter and elsewhere, taking to its own social media accounts to let players know they were working on the problems. “For those trying to get into GTA Online today, please bear w/ us on some day one tech connection issues that we’re working to stabilize asap,” the company said in a Twitter message.

So what’s all the fuss about? The online game, which is free with a copy of Grand Theft Auto V, takes place a few months before the main title and is supposed to help fill in some gaps about the larger single-player story.

It is not available as a stand-alone game.

GTA Online includes lots of additional goodies, such as a more customization options for your avatars, a growing number of jobs, as well as updates that add more cooperative missions and accessories.

The game also includes the option to pay real cash for in-game extras, which the company is calling GTA$. Working to allay concerns that introducing real money into the game could upset its balance, Rockstar has already made assurances that GTA$ shouldn’t have a negative effect on the game and that it will be on the lookout for possible problems.

“[We] will constantly tweak all areas of the game to make it play fairer and iron out any balancing problems (while fixing all the other problems we encounter!), but we really need your help in figuring out what those issues are. So please work with us on that,” developers wrote in a company blog post.

In an early take on the online game, IGN’s Keza MacDonald said that it does “take a while” to earn money in GTA Online, and that it was easy to see how spending real money to upgrade could tempt people. But, MacDonald wrote, pouring cash into the game doesn’t really get you ahead that quickly.

“You can’t pay to unlock things, so paying real money can’t give you a gameplay advantage,” she said. “It can only shortcut your path to buying something expensive like a boat, plane or house once you’ve reached the required rank.”

Related stories:

Grand Theft Auto V: Game gets high marks as it deals with technical problems

‘Grand Theft Auto V’ trailer released

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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