Playing in public lobbies might be just a tad safer and more enjoyable for the coming few days. A recent slew of topics on the Rockstar forums as well as other sites with an active GTA 5 community indicate that another one of the company's well loved - and feared, depending on which side you're on - ban waves has occurred.
Rockstar's anti-hacking measures in GTA Online seek to keep the game clean 24/7, but have little success due to the peer to peer server architecture. However, every now and then Rockstar does... something... which tightens the net for a short wile result in a massive number of simultaneous bans. During these ban waves, filthy hackers drop like flies after getting whacked with the legendary ban hammer.
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Many hackers re-purchase the game, as they typically use paid mod menus if they don't get banned instantly. Others simply steal accounts through various scams. This leads to the hacker population rising back up some time after a ban wave unfortunately, but these do provide legitimate players with a few days or even a week of fresh air.
GTA Online's hacker issue has been at the forefront of the game's public image for quite some time. Every Subreddit and forum will have players describing unfortunate encounters in GTA Online with the malicious hackers planting green haired clones on their back who spawn hostile PEDs, drop money and redirect damage from shots fired back to you.
Of course, there are methods to avoid these hackers. The best course of action is to join a large crew and play in their private lobbies, which are guaranteed to be free of hackers. You don't even need a crew if you have a large enough group of friends to play with.
However, if for whatever reason neither of those are applicable, you should just quit the session and find another one. The best way to annoy the hackers is to deprive them of their enjoyment, which is bothering people. If you simply leave without provoking them further, you've caused the most damage.
While the recent ban wave might keep GTA Online clean for a while, fixing the underlying problem would be a necessity for Rockstar. While it might be nothing more than wishful thinking, if they really plan to keep GTA Online active and profitable through 2020, it might be worth investing some of that $3 Billion that the game made into some hardware.
If Rockstar would spend some of that cash into building a rock-solid server of their own, many of the issues the current peer to peer model causes would be gone. It has been officially stated that this kind of server architecture was chosen for GTA Online because the company didn't expect the multiplayer portion to be particularly popular.
However, now that it is clear that Online is the real money maker here, investing in local servers would eliminate the hacking issue, which would cause the number of players - and thus, Shark Card customers - to skyrocket even compared to current numbers.
For all we know, the recent lack of substantial content and large scale server maintenance could very well be signs that this is happening as we speak. The move to an official Rockstar-run server would breath new life into GTA Online - even though based on current popularity it doesn't exactly need "new life".
A server update would also once again enable Rockstar to put a new spin on the game. While the peer to peer architecture technically allows Rockstar to develop content for the game the same way as if the servers were entirely in-house, it does become more complicated.
So far, the Freemode Events update was the most substantial in terms of changes made to the game's framework. Executives and Other Criminals capitalized on this by implementing the VIP system, however it hasn't really been made use of since.
If GTA Online's servers are migrated to a local setup with Rockstar control, much more such large updates would be possible and more frequently. Load times would be significantly decreased and DLC would be implemented with more ease.
However, undoubtedly the biggest benefit would be the solution of the hacker issue. With local servers, all of the hackers could be cleaned up within a month. Players who were driven away by the rampant hacking would return. Those who chose to stay away from the game because of them would buy in.
Those players who accepted hacker money drops would now have more incentive to buy Shark Cards. Those hackers who would stay with the game, but without their advantages would also need to rely on Shark Cards, since only the kind of filth unable to acquire funds on their own would resort to hacking.
Investing in a local server park would be a win-win situation. The players could enjoy more stable, fast and secure servers without any hackers are better DLC implementation. Rockstar Games, and by extension Take-Two Interactive Software, on the other hand would enjoy even more money.
Anyone involved with this whole affair would benefit from this arrangement. Considering the amount of cash GTA V has made, Rockstar can more than afford to construct a server architecture to maintain GTA Online. Even so, this would probably be one of the most large scale gaming servers in the world, rivaled only by the likes of EVE Online.
Would you be happy if Rockstar chose to migrate GTA Online to a local server under their control?