Many heard the news this morning. Millions of fans of the beloved Rockstar baby, Grand Theft Auto V, are now weeping with the news that the iconic sandbox’s series introduction to PC has been delayed until March 24, 2015.
Woe is me, but whatever will one do without the ability to slay thousands of innocents while ravaging through the city of Los Santos? Despite the knee-jerk reactions, we should all be extremely happy that Grand Theft Auto 5 was delayed.
To this point, one must ask why the game was delayed. Stiff-lipped as ever, Rockstar decided to instead briefly mention vague details. “Our apologies for the slight shift in the date but the game requires a few extra weeks of testing and polish to make it as good as can be. Moving a release date is never a decision we take lightly and is a choice we make only when we know it is in the best interests of the game and our fans.” At least they’re thinking about us, right? Although there are a lot of companies who would go the extra mile to never delay a game, why is Rockstar’s simple decision otherwise a miraculous thing?
Case in point: Assassin’s Creed Unity. The day when the ease of pointing out how this game did everything wrong will be a day that is eagerly looked forward to. But that day is not today. AssCreed Unity was easily the buggiest, most malfunctioned game releases of 2014. Not only are the problems so bad that for many gamers it is unplayable, not only is it completely loaded down with microtransactions (which often don’t work), not only is it boggled down by its integration of UPlay (which also often doesn’t work), not only are the problems seen in the game so bad that it transcends platforms with both PC and next-gen consoles struggling to maintain it at 30 FPS or avoid crashing, but the problems are still so bad that they persist to this day.
That is the future that Grand Theft Auto V and Rockstar desperately want to avoid. If Rockstar has learned anything, it is that Grand Theft Auto is a complicated thing, especially when introducing it to an untapped market with millions of hungry players. Grand Theft Auto V had its own stumbling start when it released for the PS3 and 360. Although the main campaign was largely unscathed (although not entirely), the multiplayer was wrought with so many problems with the actual game and the in-game economy that Rockstar had to name their bug fix the “stimulus package.” They gave away a lot of content to gamers to make amends for their failings, and they don’t want to repeat that reality for their biggest release of the year.
For PC gamers, who have been waiting years for the release of Grand Theft Auto V on PC, the date has been heralded as the second coming of some awesome deity that will probably be bringing us all pizza or something. Gamers with buff PCs which can conquer games like Skyrim and and Witcher have been tapping their fingers impatiently to crank the settings of Grand Theft Auto V up to ultra and experience the already documented sheer beauty of Los Santos and the fictional California landscape. Grand Theft Auto V has remained one of the best selling games in recent history despite a laundry list of fall releases that are newer and shinier. This is largely due to Rockstar’s commitment to Grand Theft Auto, by adding first-person mode as well as online heists, which have also been delayed to better synchronize with the release of the PC launch.
But all that commitment takes a lot of work. Online heists are no doubt a huge technical challenge for Rockstar, as the multiplayer will be supporting up to 30 players to a session, and the difficulty of coordinating communications with servers in a game that is so massive requires no small feat of engineering. Moreover, making sure the game is polished enough to the standards of the highest level of PC gamers is a big deal for Rockstar. The two year old release has already been pre-ordered countless times on Steam and online retailers, and once the game fully releases, they can only expect millions of more will be buying into Grand Theft Auto V. Releasing a lackluster project will only disappoint their PC market and shy others away, so Rockstar needs to ensure their flourish is as beautiful as their substance. Significant playtesting is a necessity for this game, and they want to ensure customers they will be buying the best new title of Grand Theft Auto on PC, but the best version of it.
Delays are good for gamers, there are no two ways about it. Yeah, it sucks when our favourite game is delayed. Sure, it kills the hype (don’t worry, the hype will return if the game is good upon release). But if a gamer could choose between a bad game and a great game, they should always choose the great game. Grand Theft Auto V is already great, and ensuring quality control on their product will allow Rockstar to give an even more immersive experience than they already offer. Three more months will be worth the wait, and should also give us time to finish fine-tuning our PCs to ensure that Grand Theft Auto will efficiently run in 4K resolution as today’s released pictures show.