In GTA Online, heists are pretty much the primary end-game content, such as it is. With high payouts and complex missions, these are intended as the main methods of acquiring cash and RP for high-level players. However, a number of newer techniques have begun to outperform heists, and this isn't caused solely by inadequacy on the heists' part.
One of the biggest issues with heists are the players. While we covered why playing with randoms isn't as big an issue as it is made out to be, there is a pretty serious problem that makes heisting tedious and often entirely inefficient: the player requirements and quitters.
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See, heist setups require a full four-man team even when the actual objectives could be technically completed with fewer members. With finding players being the main hindrance for heists, Rockstar really ought to allow smaller teams to complete those particular set-ups which facilitate this, while the game searches for the remaining members in the background for the finale.
The main issue however, is when players decide to leave. Since GTA Online views a heist team of fewer than four players as a big no-no, in this case, all players are booted right out of the heist, with all progress being lost. Be it a rage-quitter getting annoyed by too many deaths, or a troll purposefully wasting everyone's time, in both cases the heist is ruined.
Not only should a system be in place that allows the remaining members to continue the heist from where they left off, instead of being forced to restart the whole thing, but the quitters should be penalized for their transgressions as well. Fine them, slap a cooldown timer on them or put them in bad sport lobbies for a while - any such punishment would do much to curb the frequency of quitters.
Certain other games have recently dealt with rage-quitting issues. Street Fighter V, a leading fighting game with a major professional e-sports scene, has been fighting against the issue for a good long time, with a fairly reliable system having been implemented recently which punished players who simply quit a match that they seem to be losing and can't turn around.
Quitting in such a case did not record it as a loss, nor did it chalk up a win for the opponent, which makes it understandable that this practice bothered a great many fans. GTA Online would benefit from a similar system that put the hurt on those who messed with the fun of legit players.
Granted, there would be some issues with the system of imposing fines on quitters. Deducting an amount of GTA$ would be pretty harsh towards those with dodgy internet, and even players with a generally stable connection might experience a sudden outage. In this case, docking players cash, which is notoriously hard to come by in GTA Online anyway, might not be the best way to gain good will.
On the other hand, imposing other restrictions such as placing players on a timer, preventing them from joining heists or even other activities, or placing them in bad sport might do the trick. Both systems would essentially prevent the quitters from ruining another heist.
These solutions would only work concurrently with a system that allows for certain set-up missions to be played with fewer than four players, while finales could be continued from checkpoints once a fourth member is found. GTA Online's issues with loading times make this a real problem, beyond being a mere inconvenience.
Heists take a long time to pull off, and if a player with a limited amount of free time blows their off-hours on failed heists due to quitters and lengthy loading screens, they might just opt to play something else the next time around which is a more guaranteed source of entertainment.
While GTA Online is being constantly updated with new content via free DLC packs, there are almost exclusively adding new features, without tweaking existing content. This tendency of not touching any older system is something Rockstar will likely have to change if they want Online to retain its current leading position in the face of major releases like RDR 2 and the game's age.
Heists is probably the most influential update GTA Online has ever received, however its age is beginning to show. It, and a number of other features for that matter, could definitely use a facelift. While GTA Online isn't suffering for players and popularity, if Rockstar wants to stick to their plan of keeping the game profitable through 2020 and beyond, they will need to consider modernizing it by tweaking and updating some of the older content and features.
The heist lobby system and implementation of quitter punishment would be great first steps. Neither require new assets and are easily solved programming tasks, so it's not like the project involves a complete reworking of core mechanics. It is a relatively simple task that is bound to gain the devs a great deal of good will.
Quitters are right up there with griefers on the list of GTA Online undesirables, now that hackers have finally been dealt with and stricken off the list. While griefers are much more high-profile with their prepubescent voices and Hydras, the quitters are less in-your-face about their asshattery.
Would you welcome a system in GTA Online which penalizes people who quit from heists prematurely?