Rockstar Games isn't having the best time with the release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition. Ever since the game launched, it's been lambasted for bugs, performance issues and shortcomings that make the "remasters" worse than the originals - but things were at their lowest on PC. Both the game and the Rockstar Games Launcher became unavailable, and now that they're back we know why.
According to an official Rockstar statement, The Definitive Edition was "unavailable to play or purchase as we remove files unintentionally included in these versions". However, since the Rockstar Games Launcher was also down during this period - over a day - all the other titles from the developer were affected on PC.
Rockstar only gave any official acknowledgement of the issue about 24 hours after the start of the "maintenance", which was what the downtime was called before the statement. In the meantime however, dataminers uncovered the probable causes of the whole controversy.
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Apparently, the initially released version of GTA: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition on PC included a bunch of files and code that it shouldn't have. Not only were the files for songs with expired licenses included, but so were the files of the original "Hot Coffee" minigame which was disabled but discovered, resulting in a huge scandal back when San Andreas first launched.
Additionally, the code itself still retained developer comments. Most of these were innocuous or humorous in nature, but some of they painted both Grove Street Games and Rockstar Games in a poor light. Coders working on the remasters would refer to original code with expletives or make other unsavory jokes and comments.
Now that the game is once again available for purchase and download on PC, and the Rockstar Games Launcher is back, players jumping back into the remastered versions of GTA 3, Vice City and San Andreas had to download a new 4 GB patch that addressed some performance issues alongside the unintentionally included files, so at least there is a silver lining here - though the game still suffers from a multitude of bugs and problems.
That new patch arrived just as Grove Street Games and Rockstar Games have committed to supporting The Definitive Edition with a number of updates in the coming weeks and months. Grove Street Games, the company formerly known as War Drum Studios that was involved in previous classic GTA ports, handled the remasters themselves instead of Rockstar Games.
Thomas Williamson, head of Grove Street Games, Tweeted about the "unparalleled level of scrutiny" on the studio and stated that they are celebrating the launch "while we work on updates". Considering the overall response from fans to The Definitive Edition, you might imagine what kind of replies that particular Tweet received.
It’s so fun to see players out there really enjoying what we’ve put together for them. I’m honestly enjoying this unparalleled level of scrutiny on our studio. Today we are celebrating our monumental project launch, while we work on updates. 🙂
— Thomas Williamson (@TSWilliamson) November 11, 2021
It is clear that the remasters are definitely in need of a lot of updating and iterating before they're in any condition befitting games of this stature. Many of the complaints about the quality of The Definitive Edition state that the released version is rushed, unpolished and in many ways a downgrade from the originals. Numerous comparison images and videos show the original games, The Definitive Edition, and footage from some of the many mods that Take-Two nuked ahead of the remaster's release.
Players were already outraged at the company's conduct regarding these fan-made projects, but now that the actual, official remasters are available, that anger has only increased. Many fans are upset that not only is the quality of The Definitive Edition subpar, but Take-Two has made efforts to ensure that everyone is stuck with this version by removing the originals from digital stores and suing modders into submission.
It is hard to say at this point whether any number of patches will salvage the public opinion, even if they fix the game - it is also hard to say how representative the online outrage is of the entire playerbase. GTA is one of the most mainstream franchises out there with millions of fans, with those players engaged enough to write about it on social platforms only representing a small slice.
Either way, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition is back up on PC, and it's going to get updates. We're looking forward to them!